Diageo announced on June 7 that long-time CEO Ivan Menezes has died after a brief illness.
Menezes, 63, held the CEO role at the spirits giant for 10 years, and was scheduled to retire at the end of this month.
The company had reported on June 5 that Menezes had been in the hospital receiving treatment for medical conditions including a stomach ulcer. His recovery suffered a significant setback due to complications, which followed emergency surgery on the ulcer.
As a result, Diageo’s board of directors named Debra Crew interim CEO, ahead of her planned appointment as CEO. The company in March announced that Crew would take over as CEO and join the board as an executive director on July 1, 2023, following Menezes’s retirement.
Ivan Manuel Menezes was born on July 10, 1959, in Pune, India, and held U.K. and U.S. citizenship, and Overseas Citizenship for India. He joined Diageo at its creation in 1997 through the merger of Guinness and Grand Metropolitan and held many senior positions in a career spanning more than 25 years at the company.
Menezes had been an executive director of Diageo since July 2012, and served as CEO since July 2013, overseeing a period of change, growth and high performance, the company says. In January 2023, Ivan was awarded a Knighthood for services to Business and to Equality in His Majesty The King’s 2023 New Year Honours List.
Menezes is survived by his wife, Shibani and his two children, Nikhil and Rohini.
The alcohol industry mourned the passing of the longtime leader.
“We are saddened to learn of the loss of global spirits industry pioneer and leader, Ivan Manuel Menezes, who built Diageo into a best-in-class international company,” said Francis Creighton, President and CEO, Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA). “His forward-thinking business practices were respected from Wall Street to Main Street and connected with millions of consumers around the world. American distribution partners were proud to partner in building Diageo brands that Sir Ivan himself championed and positioned with bars, restaurants, and off-premise retailers. Our thoughts are with his beloved wife Shibani, and two children, Nikhil and Rohini.”
“It is with deep sadness and profound respect that we mourn the sudden passing of Sir Ivan Menezes, CEO of Diageo,” said Chris Swonger, President and CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States and Responsibility.org. “Ivan was an exceptional leader whose contributions to the spirits industry were immeasurable. His visionary approach, unwavering commitment to responsibility, and dedication to building some of the world’s best brands will forever be remembered. Ivan’s passion for the spirits industry will be greatly missed. Under his guidance on the DISCUS board, the spirits industry experienced tremendous achievements, witnessing remarkable growth, while also prioritizing sustainability and diversity initiatives to enhance the entire spirits sector. Ivan’s tireless dedication to fostering inclusivity and his commitment to consumers played a pivotal role in driving the industry forward. On behalf of the Distilled Spirits Council, Responsibility.org and our members, we extend our deepest condolences to Ivan’s family, loved ones and colleagues as they navigate this profound loss.”
Ugo Fiorenzo, DISCUS chairman and Managing Director at Campari America & Canada, described Ivan as a titan in the industry, adding, “Ivan Menezes was a true luminary, combining extraordinary leadership with a passion for his craft. His contributions will continue to shape our industry and inspire generations to come.”