Michael B. Polk named to lead Unilever's Americas region
Unilever announced today that Michael B. Polk, currently Group Vice President and President Unilever United States, has been named President Americas region.
Englewood Cliffs, N.J. -- Unilever announced today that Michael B. Polk, 46, currently Group Vice President and President Unilever United States, has been named President Americas region. Polk is succeeding John Rice who has decided to retire after 25 years of service.
Patrick Cescau, Group Chief Executive, said, “Mike Polk has played an integral role in successfully integrating the U.S. business and sustaining our growth momentum in this important country. I am really pleased that he is taking on the leadership of the Americas region.”
Cescau continued, “I also want to thank John for his many contributions to Unilever over the course of his career with the company. Most recently this included his commitment to help build the new One Unilever organization as well as the successful leadership of the Americas region for the past two years. We will all miss his leadership and experience.”
Prior to joining Unilever in July 2003, Polk spent 16 years at Kraft Foods with his last position as Group Vice President, Kraft Foods North America and President of the Biscuits, Snacks and Confections Segment. He held a variety of other leadership positions at Kraft including Group Vice President Kraft Foods International and President, Asia Pacific Region, Executive Vice President and General Manager Post Cereals, and Vice President of Category Sales Management and Strategy for Kraft Foods North America.
Before joining Kraft, Polk spent three years at Procter & Gamble in Manufacturing and Research & Development. Polk earned his B.S. in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering from Cornell University and holds a M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
Polk’s position in the U.S. will be filled by Kevin Havelock, 49, who presently runs Unilever’s UK operations.
“Havelock joined Unilever in 1985 and over the years has demonstrated great leadership, including, in his current position, overseeing the start of the integration of the UK’s three businesses into one,” said Cescau. “We are extremely pleased to offer him this opportunity to lead the U.S. business.”
Kevin Havelock has more than 20 years with Unilever.
Over the years he has taken on roles with increasing responsibility, including in 1997, serving as Chairman of Unilever Foods France, where he introduced the “Paint France Yellow” campaign for Lipton Iced Tea; in 2000, was named Chairman of Unilever Arabia, where he was responsible for eight countries across the Middle East; in 2004, was appointed Chairman of Unilever Foods UK and in 2006 named to his current position as head of the UK business. Havelock received his honors degree in economics from Christ College, University of Cambridge and completed the advanced management program at Harvard University.
Although these moves will be effective March 2007, the transition is currently underway.
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