Mars Wrigley reveals Gülen Bengi as global chief growth officer

Global confectionery group Mars Wrigley has confirmed Gülen Bengi as its new Global Chief Growth Officer, from this October, as it continues its international expansion plans, writes Neill Barston.

The new postholder succeeds Cathryn Sleight who, following a successful career of over 30 years in marketing, is taking a step back from full-time work to explore other opportunities.

Sleight, who joined the business in 2019 and played an active role in the process to hire her successor, will stay on through December, partnering with Bengi to complete the transition. Bengi will be leading the Mars Wrigley portfolio’s growth agenda and report to Mars Wrigley Global President Andrew Clarke.

“We are grateful to Cathryn for her exceptional and versatile leadership,” said Andrew Clarke, Global President of Mars Wrigley. “In the face of uncertainty and disruption, she helped Mars Wrigley regain share growth momentum by powering our brands with meaningful purpose, building digital capabilities, gaining availability in fast-growing channels and delivering cutting edge innovation. Her ambition and contributions to our business and brands will have a lasting impact.”

Clarke continued: “I’m delighted to welcome Gülen to Mars Wrigley. Her impressive track record demonstrates transformational leadership, pure marketing talent and commercial acumen that will enable her to drive growth, accelerate our innovation agenda and build new capabilities. Gülen has a passion for growing talent, building high performance teams and developing inclusive cultures. We know she’ll help Mars Wrigley remain a leading employer that attracts and retains top talent and always fosters an environment of inclusivity.”

Bengi, who most recently served as Executive Vice President – Hair Care at Unilever, is a highly accomplished marketing and P&L leader who has led transformations in several CPG businesses and in multiple geographies.

As CPG industry veteran, Bengi started her career at Unilever, followed by key roles at Danone and Kimberly Clark before rejoining Unilever in 2020. She has strong emerging and developed market experience, and has lived and lead businesses in the UK, US, Central America, and the Caribbean as well as her native country Türkiye. Bengi has held strategic global, regional, and local roles in sales, marketing, and general management with a strong track record for envisioning and delivering results and driving growth. She is passionate about growing talent, building high performance teams and developing inclusive cultures.

Bengi commented: “I am absolutely delighted to be joining Mars Wrigley, an inspiring, purpose led company with its generational thinking guided by its Five Principles and belief that ‘the world we want tomorrow starts with how we do business today.’ I am especially excited to be joining at such a pivotal time for the business. Cathryn and the talented Mars team have set a strong foundation. Now it will be our job to continue building the business and taking our iconic brands and categories to the next level.”

Sleight’s departure concludes the most recent chapter in an impressive, almost four-decade full-time career at major multinational food and beverage companies including The Coca-Cola Company and Unilever. During her time at those companies, she led the Global Food Category as EVP, spending nearly a decade developing and executing global brand renovation and innovation agendas and leading strategies to identify M&A and new category growth opportunities. Sleight will continue into early 2023 working on a series of programs for Mars.

Reflecting on her career and transformative tenure at Mars, Sleight adds: “It has been a privilege of a lifetime to help grow this amazing business with some of the world’s best-loved brands. While I look forward to rebalancing my personal and corporate life, I will miss the Mars team dearly and will always follow these iconic brands. I congratulate Gülen on this fantastic opportunity to help shape the future of treating and snacking.”

Key diversity move

In another major move for the business, the company’s M&M’s brand has unveiled its FUNd Advisory Council, a group of experts who will drive programming of diversity, inclusivity and belonging around the world.

The M&M’S FUNd was announced this past January with the intention to track the brand’s action against the refreshed purpose to create a world where everyone feels they belong. The M&M’s FUNd offers resources, mentorship, opportunities and financial support in the arts and entertainment space to connect people and ensure they have access to experiences to increase a sense of belonging for 10 million people around the world by 2025.

The founding advisory council for the M&M’s FUNd will include representatives from Coqual, Disability:IN, GLAAD, Global Belonging Collaborative, GroupM and PolicyLink. M&M’s will convene the below advisors from esteemed organizations together several times a year to assess the brand’s programs, quantify impact, provide counsel and further our mission through our organizations’ respective networks.




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