The announcement that Ken Powell has been elected to the board of directors and appointed president and chief operating officer at General Mills has caused some speculation that Powell is the front-runner eventually to replace Steve Sanger as CEO.

In his new role, Powell is responsible for all company operating activities worldwide and will report directly to Sanger.

Powell, who has worked for General Mills for 26 years, has held various leadership positions within the company, most recently executive vice president and chief operating officer – US retail. He also served as president of the Yoplait Division, president of Big G Cereals and CEO of Cereal Partners Worldwide – a JV with Nestlé.

General Mills simultaneously announced a number of other senior management appointments. Jim Lawrence has been elected vice chairman and will continue to serve as CFO; Ian Friendly has succeeded Powell as executive vice president and COO US retail; Chris O’Leary has been elected executive vice president and COO International; Marc Belton has been elected executive vice president and retains his previous responsibilities for health, brand and new business development; Christi Strauss has been promoted to senior vice president and CEO of Cereal Partners Worldwide.

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