Diageo appoints SSE’s Manzoni as chair

John Manzoni

Scotch whisky and drinks giant Diageo plc announced that current non-executive director John Manzoni will be appointed chair of its board on or around February 5, 2025, when current chair Javier Ferrán retires.

Manzoni is also chair of SSE plc, the Perth-based energy infrastructure group — the biggest listed company run from Scotland.

“Sir John Manzoni joined the Diageo board in October 2020, having been chief executive of the UK Civil Service from 2014 to 2020,” said Diageo.

“He is currently chair of FTSE-listed multinational energy business SSE plc and a non-executive director of engineering and technology business KBR, Inc.

“He was previously a non-executive director of the multinational drinks company SAB Miller plc for 11 years from 2004 to 2015. 

“Earlier in his career John served as president and chief executive officer of Talisman Energy, and held a number of senior executive roles at BP plc. 

“Javier Ferrán joined the Diageo board in July 2016 and was appointed chair on 1 January 2017.”

Diageo’s brands including Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, JεB and Buchanan’s whiskies, Smirnoff, Cîroc and Ketel One vodkas, Captain Morgan, Baileys, Don Julio, Tanqueray and Guinness.

Susan Kilsby, Diageo’s senior independent director who led the appointment process, said: “On behalf of the entire board, I want to express our gratitude to Javier.

“He has led our board with great distinction, helping us to attain new levels of commercial success and to strengthen our position as one of the most trusted and respected consumer products companies in the world.

“We are proud of the progress Diageo has made under his stewardship, achieving average annual total shareholder returns of 8% over the last decade, and driving diversity throughout our organisation, with over 70% of the board and 44% of our senior leadership now comprised of women.

“The board is delighted to appoint John as Diageo’s next chair, following an extensive search process.

“John has an outstanding track record of leadership within beverage alcohol and across a number of other complex and fast-changing sectors in the UK and globally.

“His experience and expertise will be instrumental as Diageo continues to develop and grow its global business in the years ahead.”

Ferrán said: “It has been a true privilege to lead Diageo’s board during a period in which we have achieved significant growth, reshaped our portfolio and geographic footprint, and navigated widespread global volatility.

“I look forward to working with John, the Board and all my Diageo colleagues to ensure a smooth transition over the coming months.”

Manzoni said: “It will be a privilege to take on this role and to succeed Javier, whose leadership and acumen have been so valuable to our business and to board colleagues.

“Since joining the board, I have been continually impressed by the growth potential of the organisation, the quality of our brands, and the dedication and high standards of Diageo colleagues around the world.

“Diageo has an unrivalled portfolio, a global footprint and world-leading capabilities, and I look forward to supporting the executive team to ensure that we deliver on our potential.”

Diageo CEO Debra Crew said: “Javier has been an invaluable source of strategic counsel and advice for me and our wider leadership team, and I want to thank him personally for the role he has played in stewarding the business so successfully.

“With a strong focus on execution, we will continue to invest behind our iconic brands to create value for shareholders and maintain our position as an industry leader in total beverage alcohol, an attractive sector with a long runway for growth.

“I look forward to working with John as chair and the rest of the board to achieve those ambitions.”

Manzoni will also succeed Ferrán as chair of Diageo’s nomination committee in February 2025.

Diageo said Manzoni served as CEO of Talisman Energy from 2007 to 2012.

Prior to that role, he spent almost 25 years at BP plc. From 2001 to 2002, Manzoni served as BP’s Chief Executive of Gas and Power, and from 2002 to 2007, he served as Chief Executive of Refining and Marketing. He also served as an executive director on BP’s main board from 2003 to 2007.

Manzoni also serves as chair of the board of the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE plc), a UK Ministry of Defence facility. He is a non-executive director of KBR, Inc. in the US.

Manzoni is an advisor for Mace Group Ltd and is a mentor for Chairman Mentors International (CMi). Manzoni previously served as a non-executive on the board of SABMiller plc from 2004 – 2015, and as an advisory board member for the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

Manzoni holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering and a Master of Science degree in Petroleum Engineering from Imperial College London. He also holds a Master of Science degree in Management from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and was a Sloan Fellow.