Unilever announced Michael Polk has been named group vice president, Unilever United States, reporting directly to John Rice, Unilever president, Americas, and Alan Jope has been appointed group vice president, Global Spreads, Cooking Products & Dressings, Foods Category, reporting directly to Vindi Banga, Unilever president, Global Foods Category. Prior to this, Polk and Jope co-led Unilever's U.S. business as group vice president, Foods, U.S., and group vice president, Home and Personal Care, U.S., respectively. Both will be immediately transitioning to their new positions, which are effective January 1, 2006.
"Over the past six months, we've been organizing to win in the U.S. by combining our Foods and Home and Personal Care businesses. Mike's appointment marks our commitment to building a single U.S. powerhouse that fully leverages our scale and growth potential in the region. With key management positions, business operations and functions in place, the timing is right for us to announce a single leader for our U.S. business," said Rice. "Mike is a 21-year veteran in our industry. Since joining Unilever in 2003, he has done a great job driving growth on our U.S. foods business. With his proven track record, depth of experience and instinctive understanding of consumer insights, brand marketing and business development, Mike is a terrific choice to lead Unilever's charge to build a more competitive and dynamic organization in the U.S." Polk will be based in Unilever's U.S. headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.
"Jope, with over 20 years of experience within Unilever, brings strong leadership, an extensive marketing background and business experience in Unilever in Europe, Asia and North America. It was his leadership and passion for winning that successfully fueled our Home and Personal Care business in the U.S. back to growth in the first half of this year," said Banga. "I am confident that he will bring this same passion to our Global Spreads, Cooking Products & Dressings Category." Jope also will be based in Englewood Cliffs.
Prior to joining Unilever in July 2003, Polk spent 16 years at Kraft Foods, with his last position as group vice president, Kraft Foods North America and president of the Biscuits, Snacks and Confections segment. He held a variety of other leadership positions at Kraft, including group vice president Kraft Foods International and president, Asia Pacific Region, executive vice president and general manager Post Cereals, and vice president of Category Sales Management and Strategy for Kraft Foods North America. Before joining Kraft, Polk spent three years at Procter & Gamble in Manufacturing and Research & Development. Polk earned his B.S. in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering from Cornell University and holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
Jope joined Unilever in 1985 and worked in a number of sales and marketing roles in London and Connecticut until 1995. From 1995-1998, Jope served as division director for Unilever Thailand, where he built the Thai Personal Products and the Asia-Pacific Hair Care businesses. From 1999-2000, Jope was in Chicago as vice president of Marketing for Unilever's Hair and Deodorant businesses. He earned a Bachelor of Commerce with Honors from Edinburgh University, Scotland. In addition, he graduated from Harvard Business School's General Manager Program in 2001. Jope currently serves as chair of the U.S. Soap and Detergent Association.