ATLANTA — Former Unilever executive Michael Polk has been appointed president and CEO of Newell Rubbermaid, effective July 18. He succeeds Mark Ketchum, who is retiring but will remain a director until May 2012.
Ketchum announced in January his intention to retire after being recruited from the board five years ago to lead Newell Rubbermaid through its transformation into a marketing-driven company.
Polk most recently served as president of global foods, home and personal care at Unilever, where he was responsible for the development, innovation and marketing of Unilever's entire $64 billion portfolio of categories and brands. During his eight years at Unilever, he is credited with transforming the company's business in the Americas and, in his latest role, sharpening Unilever¹s portfolio strategy and creating a more competitive, faster growing, innovation-driven organization. Polk has been a member of the Unilever executive board since 2007.
"Mike is an outstanding marketer, innovator and leader with a proven record of growing global brands, driving change, and delivering superior financial performance," said Michael Cowhig, chairman of Newell Rubbermaid's board of directors. "He is the right leader at the right time to build on Newell Rubbermaid's successful transformation and accelerate our global growth."
"I am honored to be joining Newell Rubbermaid as president and CEO," Polk said. "The company has a strong portfolio of brands and an excellent leadership team with a great opportunity to win in both the developed and emerging markets. In a very challenging environment, Mark and his team have strengthened the company and positioned us for growth. I am very excited about writing the next chapter of the Newell Rubbermaid story and look forward to the challenge of unlocking the full potential of the company."
Before joining Unilever, Polk spent 16 years at Kraft Foods. His last two positions at Kraft were president, Asia Pacific region, Kraft Foods International and president, Nabisco biscuit and snacks, Kraft Foods North America. In both positions, Polk served on Kraft's Management Committee. Prior to Kraft, Polk spent three years at Procter & Gamble working in manufacturing and research and development in the paper products division.
Polk has been a member of Newell Rubbermaid's board since 2009 and is a member of the audit committee.