The coming weeks usher in a new era of leadership for Mars as CEO Grant F Reid hands the reins to Poul Weihrauch. By Eamonn Duff
When Grant F Reid called time on an illustrious career at Mars, his number one priority was not his own retirement, but making the looming leadership succession as smooth and seamless as possible.
Mars announced, back in June, that Reid would be leaving in September. In doing so, it also revealed how he’d signalled his retirement date some 18 months earlier so he could personally aid the search for his replacement. The American multi-national has made enormous strides under Reid. In terms of its next chapter, nothing would be left to chance.
Poul Weihrauch, global president of Mars Petcare (below), has been promoted to the role and, for several months, both he and Reid have been working closely for a flawless exchange.
Reid said: “It has been a privilege to lead the Mars team and work closely with the Mars Family. I’m proud that, in the face of challenges such as a global pandemic, we have never lost sight of our strategic path or our ambition to help create the world we want tomorrow – and to drive both purpose and performance. Whether that be challenging ourselves to deliver a truly net zero supply chain, ensuring our most impactful raw materials like palm are deforestation-free, or innovating with packaging solutions to help ensure our products do not turn up as waste.”
He added: “Having worked closely with Poul for many years I consider him and his family to be close friends. I am very excited about the future of the business under his leadership and congratulate him on his appointment as CEO of this incredible company.”
Reid made the decision to retire from Mars after more than eight years in the job and 34 years in the business.
Mars Board Chair, Frank Mars, paid tribute to his “extraordinary legacy”, highlighting countless achievements – fusing performance with purpose, delivering sustainable growth, ramping up Mars digital capabilities, building its iconic brands, and expanding into newer territories like veterinary health, pet services and healthy snacking. As a result, Mars said sales had grown by over 50 percent to nearly $45 billion under Reid’s tenure and the number of associates had increased from 60,000 to more than 140,000.
Mars said: “While he is too modest to admit it, our significant transformation and record growth as a business would not have happened without Grant’s leadership. He has visibly lived our principles and embedded purpose at the heart of our business strategy.”
He added: “He has been a tower of strength, helping us charter new courses and pushing us beyond what we thought possible. He’s represented Mars on the global stage, particularly around climate change, and he has ensured that we are known for acting, not just making commitments. We will greatly miss his principled leadership, his highly collaborative and engaging style and – not least – his dry Scottish sense of humour.”
Grant’s successor Weihrauch has worked across many parts of the company since joining in 2000 as European brand leader for Snickers. Having led the Mars Food business, he became President of Global Petcare in 2014 and, during that time, has overseen significant growth and diversification into veterinary health, diagnostics, data, and platforms, doubling the size of the business. Weihrauch has also driven significant focus and investment into the Petcare sustainability agenda.
Frank Mars said: “I have known Poul for 22 years, working closely with him for the last 10, and I know he will be a wonderful leader for the next stage of our evolution.
“He is known for his inspirational and inclusive leadership style, for growing businesses and renovating brands and for his deep commitment to Associate engagement and development. Following Grant’s decision, the Board and I are grateful to be able to appoint such a strong Mars leader and are confident that Poul will both protect our legacy, while leading us into what promises to be a bright and exciting future.”
Weihrauch said he was “humbled” by the opportunity to lead a company that is constantly transforming, innovating and evolving to make the planet a better place.
“We live in challenging times but I’m an optimist and I believe in the power of business to have a positive impact and, in particular, the freedom we have at Mars to do the right thing for our associates and the world we operate in.”
He added: “I thank Grant for his friendship, counsel and collaboration over the years, and I congratulate him on his exceptional career at Mars.”
While Reid is officially about to let go of the baton, the retirement he flagged almost two years ago must remain on pause a little longer yet.
He has agreed to stay on at Mars until the end of the year, serving as a representative of the company at several upcoming events, including UNGA/Climate Week and COP27.