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Carlos M. Gutierrez: 1953—: Corporate Executive Biography

Early Learned Work Ethic Paid Off, Led Kellogg Divisions Worldwide, Took Bold Steps To Save Company

Carlos M. Gutierrez: 1953—: Corporate executive.

When Cuban-born Carlos M. Gutierrez ascended to the top spot at the Kellogg Company in 1999 he became not only the youngest chief executive officer (CEO) in company history but also the firm's first Hispanic CEO. According to Hispanic Online, the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility stated that he was one of just 14 Hispanics wielding serious power in Fortune 1000 companies. Gutierrez's multicultural background has been a plus at Kellogg which has production facilities on six continents and distributes products to 160 countries. "It's been incredibly helpful," he told the Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. "I must be the only CEO in the country who takes calls and writes letters in Spanish." While unabashedly proud of his heritage, Gutierrez told The Florida Times Union that he preferred to be recognized for his business acumen than as "the Hispanic CEO." Considering his track record at Kellogg, Gutierrez has nothing to worry about. When he took over Kellogg, the nearly century-old cereal giant was in trouble. Sales were down and shareholders were worried. Home of Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies, and Raisin Bran, Kellogg had gone stale. Gutierrez didn't flinch. Through some very bold, and often unpopular moves, he prodded Kellogg back to life. By 2003 the company's profits had risen seven percent above the previous year, beating Wall Street's per-share forecasts by one cent. Though Gutierrez told the Battle Creek Enquirer, "To be able to turn in this type of sales and earnings performance is a real credit to our whole organization," business analysts all point to Gutierrez's gutsy leadership as the driving force behind the company's resurgence.

Carlos Miguel Gutierrez was born in Havana, Cuba, on November 4, 1953, to Pedro Gutierrez and Olga Fernandez. The elder Gutierrez owned a successful pineapple plantation which provided the family with a very comfortable life. While Olga minded their large home, Carlos and his older brother attended Catholic school. In a country run into poverty by the corrupt regime of dictator Fulgencio Batista, the Gutierrez's enjoyed a relatively idyllic life. Then, in 1959, Fidel Castro took power and within a year began to implement a fierce brand of communism. Private businesses such as the Gutierrez family plantation were seized by the government. During this tumultuous time Gutierrez's father was briefly jailed for alleged anti-government activities.

At a Glance . . .

Born Carlos Miguel Gutierrez on November 4, 1953, in Havana, Cuba; son of Pedro Gutierrez, (pineapple plantation owner), and Olga Fernandez; married Edilia Cabrera, mid 1970s; children: two daughters, one son. Education: Monterrey Institute of Technology, Queretaro, Mexico, early 1980s.

Career: Kellogg Company, 1975–: sales and marketing, 1975-82, supervisor of Latin American marketing services, 1982-83, manager of international marketing services, 1983-84; Kellogg de Mexico, general manager, 1984-89; Kellogg Canada Inc., president/CEO, 1989-90; Kellogg USA, vice president, product development, 1990, vice president, sales and marketing, 1990-93; Kellogg USA Cereal Division, general manager, 1993-94; Kellogg Asia-Pacific, president, 1994-96; executive vice president, business development, 1996-98, COO, 1998-99, CEO/president, 1999–, chairman of the board, 2000–.

Memberships: W.K. Kellogg Foundation Trust, co-trustee; Grocery Manufacturers of America, board member; Colgate-Palmolive, board member; Michigan Business Roundtable; University of Michigan Business School Advisory Board.

Addresses: Office—Kellogg Company, One Kellogg Square, Battle Creek, MI 49016-3599.

Upon his release the family fled to Miami to wait for Castro's ouster. It never came. Gutierrez's father realized they would have to begin a new life in a new country. The transition was a blow to the family, long used to both wealth and influence in their homeland. For a while they lived in a hotel in Miami. It was there that six year-old Gutierrez learned English from a bellhop.

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