Mondelez ropes in Bharti Axa ex-CEO

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MUMBAI: Deepak Iyer, former CEO & MD of Bharti Axa General Insurance, has been named the new managing director at Mondelez India, the maker of Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolates. He will replace the incumbent, Chandramouli Venkatesan, who has resigned.

Venkatesan, who is popularly known as ‘Mouli’, led the business as MD for close to two years and was with the company for over a decade. While details as to where Venkatesan is headed were not forthcoming, Mondelez said in a statement that he has decided to pursue future opportunities outside the business.
From FMCG industry standards, two years in a leadership role is a rather short stint. Venkatesan’s exit comes at a time when Mondelez International moved from a geography-led operating model to a category-led one. Industry sources conjecture this could have changed the equations.

As part of the realignment, former MD of Mondelez India Foods, Manu Anand had taken over as president (regional category team chocolate) to oversee the chocolate business across the region. In a setup such as this, especially at MNCs, roles can change from local to global and people are required to move accordingly.
It is learnt that Venkatesan, who has been with the organization in various positions for more than a decade, was keen on staying on in an India-specific role. On the other hand, Iyer, who takes over from Venkatesan, will be part of the Asia Pacific leadership team and will report into Maurizio Brusadelli, EVP & president, Asia Pacific, Mondelez International.

In a statement, Brusadelli said: “We are delighted to welcome Deepak to Mondelez International. Deepak joins us with over twenty years of management experience spanning sales, marketing, R&D, franchise management and general management. He also comes with extensive experience in the FMCG space in India. We look forward to him leading our India business – a priority market for Mondelez International globally.”

Prior to Bharti Axa, Iyer was CEO and MD of Wrigley India. He was earlier with PepsiCo Inc. for 17 years across different roles and in different markets. He has also worked in Marico Industries, Coats Viyella India and Tata Telecom.

Venkatesan joined the company as strategy director and has held several senior leadership roles in HR and category roles across India and South Asia. He drove the growth of the chocolate category in India and executed the launch of Oreo in 2011, establishing the biscuit category in the country.

“We will miss his (Venkatesan) contribution, but we respect his desire to take on a different challenge and wish him all success in his new endeavour,” said Brusadelli.

Mondelez India is owned by Mondelez International, Inc, a global snacking powerhouse, with 2015 net revenues of approximately $30 billion.