Former Unilever executive Michael Polk has been appointed president and chief executive officer at Newell Rubbermaid.

Newell Rubbermaid, Michael Polk, chief executive officer, CEO, Mark Ketchum, Unilever, Michael Cowhig, general merchandise, consumer products

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Newell Rubbermaid names Polk as CEO

June 24th, 2011

ATLANTA – Former Unilever executive Michael Polk has been appointed president and chief executive officer at Newell Rubbermaid.

The general merchandise maker said late Thursday that Polk, 50, is slated to take the helm as CEO on July 18. He succeeds Mark Ketchum, who is retiring but will remain a director until the next board elections in May 2012.

"I am honored to be joining Newell Rubbermaid as president and CEO," Polk said in a statement. "The company has a strong portfolio of brands and an excellent leadership team with a great opportunity to win in both the developed and emerging markets. In a very challenging environment, Mark and his team have strengthened the company and positioned us for growth. I am very excited about writing the next chapter of the Newell Rubbermaid story and look forward to the challenge of unlocking the full potential of the company."

A Newell Rubbermaid director since 2009, Polk most recently was president of global foods, home and personal care at Unilever, where he was responsible for the development, innovation and marketing of the consumer products giant's $64 billion portfolio of categories and brands. During his eight years at Unilever, he is credited with transforming the company's business in the Americas and sharpening its portfolio strategy.

Before joining Unilever, Polk spent 16 years at Kraft Foods and prior to that spent three years at Procter & Gamble Co. working in manufacturing and research and development in the paper products division.

"Mike is an outstanding marketer, innovator and leader with a proven record of growing global brands, driving change and delivering superior financial performance," stated Michael Cowhig, chairman of Newell Rubbermaid. "He is the right leader at the right time to build on Newell Rubbermaid's successful transformation and accelerate our global growth."

Newell Rubbermaid said Ketchum announced in January his intention to retire after being recruited from the board five years ago to lead the firm through its transformation into a marketing-driven company.

"Mark accomplished everything we asked him to do and more," Cowhig commented. "He optimized the portfolio, transformed the culture, re-engineered the supply chain and put in place a global growth strategy driven by consumer innovation and brand-building. We are grateful for Mark’s leadership, especially during the difficult economic times and through the many elements of our transformation initiatives, which sets up Newell Rubbermaid for the next stage of growth."

Ketchum stated, "Having worked with Mike Polk while on the Newell Rubbermaid board, as well as having some common elements in our background, I know him as an extremely talented global marketer and leader. I am extremely proud of Newell Rubbermaid's transformation, and I retire confident that the company is well-positioned for growth."

Newell Rubbermaid's roster of brands includes Rubbermaid, Sharpie, Graco, Calphalon, Irwin, Lenox, Levolor, Paper Mate, Dymo, Waterman, Parker, Goody, Rubbermaid Commercial Products and Aprica.