Blog: Katy AskewGeneral Mills 'prepping Jeff Harmening for CEO spot'

Katy Askew | 26 August 2016

General Mills is preparing long-time executive Jeff Harmening to succeed Ken Powell as CEO, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The publication suggested Harmening, General Mills' COO, could take the reins at the Cheerios and Old El Paso maker as early as next year.

Earlier this year, General Mills promoted Harmening to the newly-created post of COO.

At the time of the appointment, current chairman and CEO Powell said: "Jeff has a wide range of experience in both the US and internationally. The timing is right to bring together overall operations under one leader. Jeff is well positioned to accelerate our global consumer-first strategy to drive both growth and profitability.”

Harmening had been COO of General Mills' largest business, its US retail unit, since May 2014. The 49-year-old has worked for the Yoplait and Nature Valley owner for over 20 years and other experience includes a stint as CEO of Cereal Partners Worldwide, General Mills' international cereal joint venture with Nestle.

Given Harmening 's recent promotion, his tenure and the longevity of his career at General Mills, it would not be a surprise if he did succeed Powell as chief executive.

If Harmening does take the helm next year, he will face a number of significant challenges as General Mills struggles to regain momentum in its legacy brands and expand in higher growth areas of the food sector.

That said, when the WSJ asked Powell whether he would retire soon, he said, “Hell, no. There is no required retirement age at General Mills."

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