Unilever Snags General Mills CFO

General Mills CFO James Lawrence resigns to take the top finance job at Unilever.
Kate PlourdAugust 2, 2007

One of the world’s largest food and consumer goods suppliers, Unilever, has hired the CFO of General Mills to become its finance chief.

Unilever, which owns brands such as Dove soap, Slimfast and Wishbone salad dressings, announced Wednesday that James Lawrence, former vice chairman and CFO of General Mills will replace Rudy Markham, effective September. Markham, who had been with the Amsterdam-based company since 2000, announced his retirement in February. Unilever chairman Michael Treschow said in a statement, that the company bypassed several internal candidates for the job because “we believe the fresh insights that his external appointment brings will be of particular value at this time.”

Lawrence joined General Mills, producer of Betty Crocker, Hagen-Dazs ice cream and Progresso pasta sauces, in 1998 as CFO and executive vice president and held the same positions at Northwest Airlines. Before becoming a finance chief, Lawrence was president of the Asian, Middle East and African divisions of Pepsi-Cola.

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General Mills took an inside approach to hiring its next CFO, tapping current senior vice president of financial operations Don Mulligan as its new finance chief. Mulligan, who came to General Mills in 1998 from Pilsbury, will begin his new post immediately. Aside from his current position, he most recently served as vice president and treasurer.

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