Next we move to Ken Powell, chairman and CEO of General Mills, one of the world’s largest food companies, producing brands from Cheerios and Häagen-Dazs to Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, Green Giant and Nature Valley.
Pathway to the top: While many of the CEOs in our gallery moved around various CPG firms in the early stages of their career, General Mills is such a large company that Powell found plenty of opportunities to progress within its ranks after joining in 1979 as a marketing assistant working on granola, and made it all the way to the top.
In the next three decades he moved steadily up the corporate ladder, spending more than a third of his career overseas, and in 1990 helped launch Cereal Partners Worldwide, a joint venture with Nestlé based in Lausanne, Switzerland.
He returned to the US to become president of Yoplait USA in 1996, and was named president of the firm’s Big G cereal division in 1997 before returning to Switzerland in 1999 to become CEO of CPW. He was elected president and COO of General Mills in 2006, CEO in 2007 and chairman in 2008.
Education: Powell has a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology from Harvard and an MBA from Stanford.