Cream of the crop: Farmer’s son Scanlon lands job as CEO of Kerry Group

Edmund Scanlon (left) has been appointed chief executive designate to succeed Stan McCarthy (right) as chief executive of Kerry Group. Photo: Fennell Photography
Edmund Scanlon (left) has been appointed chief executive designate to succeed Stan McCarthy (right) as chief executive of Kerry Group. Photo: Fennell Photography

John Mulligan and Margaret Donnelly

A 43-year-old farmer's son from the small mountain village of Brosna, Co Kerry, has been named as the next head of Kerry Group, one of the country's biggest corporations.

The Tralee-based global food ingredients group yesterday said Kerryman Edmond Scanlon will take over as the group's third chief executive in September.

Mr Scanlon will succeed Stan McCarthy in what has been a €4m a year role.

Mr McCarthy has been chief executive since 2008, and is retiring this year as he turns 60. He'll be succeeded by another Kerry Group lifer, with deep roots in the original Kerry Co-op heartland of North Kerry.

Mr Scanlon grew up on a dairy farm in Brosna and studied commerce and accounting at University College, Cork, before joining Kerry Group's graduate programme in 1996.

His parents are understood to have been suppliers to the Kerry creamery themselves.

Brosna is located in the north-east corner of Kerry and borders both Limerick and Cork. It is part of the Sliabh Luachra district, which is better known as a mecca for traditional music and as the birthplace of Irish language poets like Aogán Ó Rathaille and Eoghan Rua Ó Súilleabháin, than for producing corporate executives.

Since joining the group, Edmond Scanlon has risen through the company ranks and worked in a string of globe-trotting roles.

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He is currently head of Kerry's Asia-Pacific operations.

Kerry chairman Michael Dowling said that the chief executive role is "not the easiest job in the world" and that Mr Scanlon has "big shoes to fill".

Big shoes come with big money at Kerry. Mr McCarthy was paid a total of $4.6m (€4.3m) in 2015. That included a basic salary of $1.3m, a performance-related bonus of $768,000, benefits of $109,000; and pension contributions of $273,000. He also received $2.1m worth of share options under the group's long-term incentive plan.

Mr Scanlon, who will formally take up the chief executive role on October 1, is married with three children and will now relocate to Kerry's global headquarters in Tralee.

He told investors in London yesterday that he is "honoured and a privileged" to be appointed chief executive at the group, which employs 23,000 people around the world and yesterday reported revenues of €6.1bn for 2016, and a €750m profit.

"Kerry Group has undergone remarkable development under Stan's leadership…and together with my colleagues I look forward to continuing to building the Kerry Group," said Mr Scanlon.

After joining Kerry more than 20 years ago, he spent three years in financial roles at the company's consumer food business, before transferring into its dairy ingredients division in Listowel, Co Kerry.

Still with Kerry, he moved to the United States in 2004, and was later appointed vice president of operations for Kerry's supply chain and financial functions there.

He gradually moved up the ranks, leading Kerry's busy mergers and acquisitions function for the US unit, before being appointed president of the group's pharma business.

He relocated to Shanghai in China in 2012 to head Kerry's operations there. In 2014, he took on his current role, opening a regional headquarters for the group in Singapore in 2015.

Kerry chairman Michael Dowling said that a number of strong, potential leaders had been internally identified by the board as part of the long chief executive succession process.

"We considered whether we would be better off to look outside (the company)…and it was clear in our view that we had sufficient talent within the company that we didn't have to go externally," he said.

Mr Dowling added that Mr Scanlon's "vision, experience and energy, and a range of other qualities…made him the best candidate to drive the company forward".

Irish Independent

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