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Crossover Stars is PRovoke Media's annual ‘Hall of Fame’ for those communicators whose career trajectory has extended beyond communications, marketing and sales into a broader core business function within their organisations. Our 11 Crossover Stars for 2021 have titles including CEO, chief strategy officer, general manager, managing director, regional head, president and chairman.
“Mukherjee stands out. Organizations should be paying attention to the breed of leadership style she is cultivating. It’s fresh, it’s evolved, it’s modern. It’s one based on bringing your whole self to work,” according to a profile of Pernod Ricard’s North America chairman and CEO Ann Mukherjee in Forbes.
In the same interview, Mukherjee said: “Any organization I step into needs to have a purpose and shared values so that I can bring my whole self to work. When you step into an organization that shares your values, that’s when the alchemy happens. Your values should drive you.”
Mukherjee became the first global marketing chief at SC Johnson in 2015, leading marketing efforts for brands that include Glade, Pledge, Raid, Windex, Ziploc, Brise, Mr. Muscle and Ridsect. In 2018, she moved away from her marketing roots into the role of global chief commercial officer, which gave her the management springboard to take on a new role at drinks company Pernod Ricard at the end of 2019, as chairman and CEO for North America.
Mukherjee had moved to SC Johnson from PepsiCo, which she joined in 2005 in Frito-Lay’s Convenience Foods Division, responsible for leading marketing, new product innovation, consumer insights and strategy and for all Quaker-branded snacking. She carved out a reputation for building brands via traditional marketing and social media savvy. In 2009, she was named Frito-Lay North America chief marketing officer.
A consumer brands veteran, Mukherjee began her marketing career at Citibank Diners Club working on new product development, and worked for 11 years at Kraft, on brands including Kraft Mac ‘N Cheese, Kraft Singles, Taco Bell, Minute Rice, Stove Top Stuffing, Velveeta and DiGiorno.
Nestlé has had its fair share of controversies around the world, from its marketing of infant formula in Africa to its use of palm oil, and has worked hard to build bridges with stakeholders around “shared value” and to back up its claims of social responsibility with actions. Since late 2015, this has been the remit of group corporate communications and public affairs director Eugenio Simioni. In January 2020, Simioni moved into a broader leadership role, as chief executive of Nestlé Switzerland, returning to the role he previously held from 2011 to 2015.
He was succeeded in the global communications leadership role in July this year by former North America lead Lisa Knight Gibby, who herself has a place on the Influence 100 this year.
Simioni began his career at Nestlé in 1989 and had been head of internal audit function for the Nestlé Group and sales director for Nestlé in the Philippines, before taking on the market leadership role for the first time.
Isabel De Paoli was named as head of group communications at Merck, the German chemical, pharmaceutical and life sciences company, in 2015, and elevated to the newly-created role of chief strategy officer a year later, taking responsibility for the integration of strategies, innovation and digitalisation across Merck.
After building Merck’s corporate science and tech ventures fund and launching business ventures investing in new technologies, last year, De Paoli parted ways with Merck to return to her private equity roots, joining the global healthcare team of EQT as partner. At the time of her appointment, she said: “Teaming up with EQT will give me an even broader platform and perspective, especially given the focus on creating positive impact with each investment across the board. Investing in and developing the healthcare industry, in all shapes and forms, is a great opportunity to make life better for so many.”
De Paoli first joined Merck in 2006 as business development manager, chemicals, before promotion to head of strategic planning, oncology in 2009. Earlier, she had been a consultant with The Boston Consulting Group, and had also worked at private equity firm Permira. In July last year, she also took a place on the supervisory board of medical technology firm Carl Zeiss Meditec.
Former longtime WE Communications and Taylor exec Jackson Jeyanayagram went in-house in 2015, but didn’t go straight to the marketing or communications team: he first took up a head of digital roles Chipotle. His first CMO post was in 2016, when he moved to online wholesaler Boxed, where, as a member of the executive team, his role covered everything from data science to operations, customer service, merchandise and supply chain, as well as overseeing brand marketing, paid media, content, SEO, influencer relations and all internal and external communications.
Jeyanayagram moved beyond marketing in January 2019, when he became VP and general manager of direct to consumer at multi-billion-dollar consumer and professional cleaning products manufacturer Clorox. There, he oversees the ensure direct-to-consumer P&L for retail brands including Burt's Bees, Brita, and divisions including petcare and cleaning. To support the company in reaching its aggressive revenue goals, Jeyanayagram has led on the creation of an e-commerce technology stack for each DTC storefront and established new ways of working within the organization, overseeing functions including engineering; operations, logistics and supply chain; growth and creative; product; data science and analytics; innovation and R&D; finance; and HR.
As well as being on the board of non-profits Peace Direct and Goodwill Industries International, Jeyanayagram has also served as an advisor to companies such as the Museum of Modern Art, rewards app Miles, employee communications platform Dynamic Signal and multichannel marketing firm BounceX.
Since she was named chief marketing officer at JPMorgan Chase in 2014, Kristin Lemkau has done everything in her power to dispel the misperception that financial services companies are stodgy and conservative marketers. She has worked with the firm for nearly 24 years, and last year also took on a broader management role as CEO of US Wealth Management.
Her CMO role includes responsibility for company-wide brand strategy and advertising, sponsorships, market research and event marketing. Since joining the company in 1998, she has also had oversight of media relations and internal communications. Prior to JPMorgan Chase, Lemkau held communications roles with Allied Signal and Freeport McMoRan.
Matthew Gain is in the unusual position of segueing straight from PR agency to corporate management, without an in-house communications role in the middle. At the start of 2016 he moved from Edelman Australia to Amazon’s audiobook company Audible. As country manager and head of Australia and New Zealand he helped to develop Audible’s offering across ANZ, before being promoted in mid-2017 to SVP and head of Audible APAC, Japan and India.
In the APAC role based in Tokyo, Gain was responsible for developing Audible’s business across the region – in particular Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand – including setting and implementing branding and growth plans, developing and leading the firm’s leadership in the region, and working on new spoken word media products, working with the global acquisition, product, technology, merchandising and content teams. In January this year he was given responsibility for Europe, and is now based in Berlin.
Before joining Audible, Gain spent nearly six years at Edelman, first as general manager of its Sydney office, and then COO for Australia.
Having conquered the agency business — building one of the most creative midsize firms in the US before selling it to an ad agency — Marino has spent the past nine years making the client side of the business look easy. In 2017, he added business oversight to his hugely accomplished career, taking on operational leadership for brewer MillerCoors’ craft and import division, Tenth and Blake.
In November 2020, after MillerCoors changed its name to Molson Coors Beverage Company, Marino took on a new management role, as president of emerging growth. While at Tenth and Blake, he was charged with growing the company’s regional craft portfolio, which includes Hop Valley, Revolver, Saint Archer and Terrapin, as well as its prestige import beers, Peroni, Pilsner Urquell and Grolsch. He continued to oversee communications – a position he had held since 2014.
Before joining MillerCoors in 2012, Marino led Dig Communications, which he sold to Minneapolis-based ad agency Olson in 2011, becoming president of public relations before moving in-house.
Entrusted with building and protecting Abu Dhabi’s reputation, Pearce has a big budget and an even bigger remit. He is considered one of the UAE’s most influential officials and is particularly close to the Executive Affairs Authority of Abu Dhabi’s chairman Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, for whom he helped “smooth the communication of the Manchester City Football Club takeover,” according to the Wall Street Journal (he is also a board member at the club). He was also one of 16 people on the Higher Committee of the Special Olympics World Games, held in Abu Dhabi in 2019.
The EAA provides analysis and advice to the chairman of Abu Dhabi’s executive council across key government areas such as economic and energy affairs, legal and risk management, security and information management, and strategic communications.
Since taking on the position in 2006, Pearce has overseen a significant revamp of the Gulf Kingdom’s communications strategy, and plays an important role in key assets such as the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix (he is on the board of Abu Dhabi Motorsport Management. Pearce came to the Middle East role after a life in the agency world, including a lengthy term at Burson-Marsteller, with positions on four continents, including CEO of Australia.
A political communicator in his native Australia, Stephen Forshaw moved into senior public relations and public affairs roles at Singapore Airlines and Microsoft before becoming head of public affairs at Singapore-owned investment firm Temasek in 2011. In 2013, Forshaw added operational oversight to his remit as managing director for Australia and New Zealand, making him one of the few communications leaders to take on business leadership duties.
As well as managing the public affairs function – responsible for external communications, media relations, investment transaction communications, issues management, branding and corporate identity – as MD Forshaw manages issues and investments, including stakeholder relationships with government and regulatory bodies and supporting Temasek portfolio companies on issues related to their investments in Australia and New Zealand. He also co-leads a team assembled from across Temasek in investments, portfolio and strategic management.
As SVP of public affairs at South Africa’s Sasol Gas until 2018, Stander was a rare example of an operational leader who had made the transition into a senior communications role. In 2018, she made the even rarer move of returning to corporate leadership at Comair: she joined the aviation and travel company as executive in charge of its airlines division (Kulula.com and British Airways, which Comair operates regionally as part of a license agreement), before being made joint CEO of the airlines business. In 2019, she took up a joint CEO role and soon after became group CEO of the entire business. She was named chair of the Airlines Association of Southern Africa in 2020 but stood down in October 2021 to take on her current role as CEO of Wesgro, the tourism, trade and investment body for Cape Town and the Western Cape, with a mandate to grow the economy of the Cape and position the region to attract investors, filmmakers, buyers and tourists.
Before taking the communications role at Sasol, Stander served as its managing director for almost four years, leading a complex three-year process to transition 314 natural gas customers from one pricing dispensation to another. Previously, she served in various capacities within the public sector including as deputy CEO of the South African Civil Aviation Authority, and MD of the Air Traffic and Navigation Services Company. Stander started her career in the NGO sector where, amongst others, she was involved in positioning the Minerals and Energy Policy Centre to be less dependent on donor funding.
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