BOSTON—When Lou Gerstner left RJR Nabsico to become chief executive of IBM, one of his first and most important personnel decisions was to invite former RJR communications chief David Kalis to join him. It looks as though James Kilts learned a lesson from Akers. He left Nabisco Holdings, recently acquired by Philip Morris, to become CEO of troubled Gillette in January, and this week he announced that former Nabisco executive vice president John Manfredi would become the company’s new senior vice president of corporate affairs.
The appointment marks a break from tradition for Gillette, which has historically promoted senior executives from within. In addition to Manfredi, Kilts, the first outsider named CEO at Gillette in 70 years, also named former Nabisco executive Peter Klein as senior vice president for strategy and business development.
“This is encouraging,” says Fredric Russell of the Fredric E. Russell Investment Management Co. “Gillette needs new blood and a less insular management team. This is a great franchise that went to sleep.”
Manfredi, who will be responsible for corporate communications and investor relations, will provide counsel on a wide range of internal and external issues and will report directly to Kilts.
Manfredi has more than 30 years experience in public affairs, financial and investor relations, corporate communications and issues management. At Nabisco he was responsible for investor and financial communications; government, civic and minority affairs; corporate, media and trade relations; consumer and scientific affairs; environmental affairs; and sports marketing.
He joined Nabisco in 1989 after more than 15 years with General Foods Corporation and prior to General Foods, he worked in the financial services industry and as a newspaper reporter and editor.