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Carlos M. Gutierrez: 1953—: Corporate Executive

Early Learned Work Ethic Paid Off

Gutierrez and his family soon embarked on a sort of nomadic existence, moving as his father's job dictated. By the time he reached high school, Gutierrez had lived in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, New York City, Mexico City, and Tampico, Mexico. Though the elder Gutierrez eventually became head of Heinz Company's Latin American fruit operations, the family never did regain the level of prestige it knew in Cuba. This loss has long inspired Gutierrez. He told The Detroit News, "It motivated me to know the worst that could happen and that I should always be ready for it. After losing everything, I wanted to create a better life."

While Gutierrez was in high school he began selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door, capitalizing on his natural sales ability. After graduating, he took a job with his father's company in Mexico City. However, when he heard of a sales position opening with Kellogg Mexico, he wasted no time in applying. He was hired in 1975 as a sales and marketing trainee and promptly began moving up the ranks, impressing both coworkers and supervisors. "He had a leadership quality that came out early," Bill LaMothe, a former CEO of Kellogg told The Detroit News. Gutierrez moved to Queretaro, Mexico, for the company and there began to study business administration at the well-respected Monterrey Institute of Technology. However, he would not be able to finish his degree. In 1982 Kellogg brass, impressed with Gutierrez's skill, brought him to company headquarters in Battle Creek, Michigan, and made him supervisor of Latin American marketing. Again, his hard work brought recognition and the following year he was promoted to manager of international marketing services.

In explaining his work ethic, Gutierrez told Hispanic, "I always felt I had to work a little harder or show a little bit more commitment than the average executive because I did have a different background." Unlike most other junior executives, Gutierrez did not complete college. He explained to Hispanic, "It was something that drove me perhaps to work harder, to read more, to be a bit more curious." In addition, when he arrived in Battle Creek there were no minorities in the company's top ranks. He knew if he were to earn a corner suite he would have to go above and beyond to prove himself. Fortunately Gutierrez loved to work, admitting to The Detroit News that working was his favorite pastime. That hobby nudged him further up the corporate ladder. In 1984 Gutierrez was promoted general manager of Kellogg Mexico and he moved back to Mexico City. There he found a company in dire straits. Sanitation levels at Kellogg's production facility were dangerously low, threatening product quality. At the same time costs were sky high, seriously impairing profitability. With a stroke of boldness that would come to characterize his management style, Gutierrez shut the plant down for 90 days to revamp operations. His move paid off. Upon reopening, the plant became one of the cleanest and most efficient of Kellogg's facilities worldwide. This ability to resolve a problem would also come to characterize his work. "His whole career has been one of many successes in almost any situation we threw him into," LaMothe told the The Florida Times Union.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Bob Graham (1942-) Biography - Awards to Francis Hendy Biography - Born to SewCarlos M. Gutierrez: 1953—: Corporate Executive Biography - Early Learned Work Ethic Paid Off, Led Kellogg Divisions Worldwide, Took Bold Steps To Save Company