Diageo Names New CMO and North American President

Syl Saller and Deirdre Mahlan will both retire

CMO Syl Saller, Debra Crew, Deirdre Mahlan, Cristina Diezhandino headshots
Debra Crew (second from left) and Cristina Diezhandino (right) will assume their new roles in Diageo effective July 1, while CMO Syl Saller (left) and Deirdre Mahlan (third from left) will retire.
Diageo

British beer, wine and spirits manufacturer Diageo said today that it is preparing to undergo two executive leadership changes, both effective July 1.

The producers of Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, Smirnoff, Cîroc, Captain Morgan, Baileys, Don Julio, Tanqueray and Guinness will say goodbye to Diageo president North America Deirdre Mahlan and CMO Syl Saller, who have both been with the company for nearly 20 years and will retire.

Mahlan, who will retire on June 30, will be succeeded by Debra Crew, who currently serves as a non-executive director on the Diageo board, and Saller will be succeeded by Cristina Diezhandino, global category director scotch and managing director for Reserve, Diageo’s luxury brands business.

Ivan Menezes, CEO of Diageo, commented on Mahlan’s departure, stating that while he is sad to be losing Mahlan (who has led Diageo North America since 2015), he knows that “she leaves a great legacy in the North America business and across Diageo.” Prior to serving as president Diageo North America, Mahlan was the CFO of Diageo for five years.

Starting in 2010, Crew previously served as a president of three different sectors of PepsiCo over four years, and was the former president and CEO of Reynolds American Inc. from October 2014 to December 2017.

Current CMO Saller, who has also served Diageo for nearly 20 years, began her career with the British booze producers in 1999 as a marketing director, followed by a post as global innovation director for nine years until 2013 before she became CMO.

Though she will be stepping down from her CMO role, Saller will still be involved in leadership development and executive coaching at the company alongside non-executive roles. Moreover, she will remain president of the Marketing Society and will continue to serve as an active board member and coach for the Marketing Academy.

Saller said that her goal after retiring is to “go out into the world and develop more of these people,” and she is thrilled that Diezhandino will be passed the torch.

“She is a remarkable leader, driven by both performance and creativity. Cristina has a deep understanding of brands, markets and operations and is widely respected, unflappable with deep compassion for others,” Saller continued.

Diezhandino has been with Diageo for almost 14 years, serving in a variety of leadership positions before taking on the title of global category director for Scotch and managing director for Reserve on July 2017.

Under Diezhandino’s leadership, Diageo’s Reserve brands division rose in luxury market share ranks from No. 3 to No. 1. She also oversaw Diageo’s biggest single investment in Scotch whisky tourism, including major work to create a state-of-the-art immersive Johnnie Walker visitor experience in Edinburgh.

Recently, Diageo completed the biggest media review of the year, sending its $350 million account to PHD. The Omnicom Media Group agency will handle media planning and buying across the majority of the Diageo portfolio.


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