Mondelez CEO Irene Rosenfeld Weighs In On Mergers, Retirement, The Glass Ceiling

By Greg Trotter
Chicago Tribune

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Great Q & A with Irene Rosenfeld, chairman and CEO of Mondelez International. Under her watch, the $26 billion global snack and candy company has invested in its top-selling brands, cut costs and expanded profit margins.

CHICAGO

Long before she became chief executive of Oreo cookies, Irene Rosenfeld wanted to be commander in chief of the United States.

“I felt very strongly that girls should have the same opportunities as boys,” said Rosenfeld, 64, of her childhood dream while growing up on New York’s Long Island.

That particular glass ceiling remains intact. But today, Rosenfeld is one of the most powerful women in business as chairman and CEO of Mondelez International, the $26 billion global snack and candy company known for brands like Oreo cookies, Ritz crackers and Sour Patch Kids candy. Under her watch, the company, based in suburban Chicago, has invested in its top-selling brands, cut costs and expanded profit margins.

At a recent luncheon, Rosenfeld was named International Executive of the Year by the Executives’ Club of Chicago, the first woman to be honored in the award’s 22-year history.

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: Do you feel, as one of the relatively few female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, that you’re treated differently or held to a different standard than a male CEO?

A: I do think there’s a need, because there’s fewer of us _ we really have to distinguish ourselves. So in that sense, yes. But I would say that I’m delighted by the fact that it is not the main topic of conversation. … Our results have to speak for themselves.

Q: Is that something that’s changed over time?

A: I think so. Years ago, the whole topic was about being a woman. I think some of the coverage of Madeleine Albright, for example, in her early days as secretary of State just felt a little bit skewed and a little bit inappropriate. … It was far more focused on the fact that she was a woman than perhaps the role that she held and the accomplishments that she delivered. I’m delighted to see female leaders like Angela Merkel and certainly Hillary Clinton treated in a much more evenhanded way.

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