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The CPG CEO of the Future: Insight into the Transformation of CPG Leadership

My colleagues and I at Spencer Stuart, the global executive search and leadership consulting firm, released the article, The CPG CEO of the Future: Insight into the Transformation of CPG Leadership, during this year’s Consumer Goods Forum Annual Global Summit. As part of the article, we interviewed 15 global CPG leaders to understand the challenges they face, the changes they have made and their projections for what world-class CPG leadership will look like in 2025.

The CPG CEO of the Future highlights the profound changes occurring in industry and the implications for leadership, including what it will take to be a world-class CPG leader in 2025. Over the course of interviews, we identified the following 10 characteristics that will define tomorrow’s CPG leaders:


  1. Entrepreneurial – Capable of thinking like an entrepreneur of a startup
  2. Growth oriented – A champion of growth, finding new occasions for consumption, but not to the detriment of the core product line
  3. Emphatic about value – Possessing clarity of purpose, with the ability to move it to the center of brand-building tactics and across all activities to connect more deeply with consumers
  4. Globally minded, locally connected – Globally minded in terms of both vision and experience, but also tapped into local markets and closely in touch with consumer needs
  5. Inclusive – Comfortable empowering others
  6. Disruptive – Transformative beyond simply being innovative
  7. Data-driven – A student of data, but not obsessed with it
  8. Experimental and curious – Eager to try new things and embrace failure
  9. Agile – Able to course-correct easily and communicate with different groups in different ways
  10. Transformational – Able to inspire organic change and transform culture without a playbook


The question CPG companies will have to grapple is whether sector experience is more or less important than finding leaders who have the capacity to thrive in new, unfamiliar and complex situations. Tomorrow’s leaders will be disruptors with both the vision and skills to look beyond traditional product and organization archetypes.


The CEO of the Future: Interview Participants


  • Stefan Bomhard, Group CEO, Inchape
  • Jean-Marc Duvoisin, CEO, Nespresso
  • Javier Ferran, Chairman of the Board, Diageo
  • João Paulo Ferreira, Chief Executive Officer, Natura Cosmeticos
  • Alan Jope, CEO, Unilever
  • Ram Krishnan, President & CEO, PepsiCo, Greater China Region
  • Jean-Claude Le Grand, Executive Vice President Human Relations, L’Oréal
  • Jorge Mesquita, former Executive Vice President and Worldwide Chairnan, Johnson & Johnson
  • Yiannis Petrides, former chairman of the board, Refresco, former President Europe, Pepsi Bottling Group
  • James Quincey, Chairman and CEO, The Coca-Cola Company
  • Grant Reid, President and CEO, Mars, Incorporated
  • Aditya Sehgal, COO, RB Health
  • David Taylor, President and CEO, Procter & Gamble
  • Hans Van Bylen, CEO, Henkel
  • Jan Zijderveld, CEO, Avon

This was written and contributed by:

Jonathan Harper
Leader of Spencer Stuart’s \Global Consumer Packaged Goods Practice