Sanjay Khosla, President Developing Markets, Kraft Foods Inc.
With more than 30 years of international business experience and a clear strategy of “Winning through Focus,” Sanjay turned around this important business -- catapulting it to top-tier performance. He joined Kraft Foods in January 2007; today, the developing markets business is the growth engine for the company.
His international marketing brilliance is evidenced by Oreo Cookies, perhaps the flagship example of his "brands with soul" philosophy. Sanjay relentlessly seeks the core idea, the "what the brand stands for" idea. He fights to imbue brands with what he sees as their deep emotional meaning, based on a universal human truth. Then he passionately champions building that brand equity around the world with carefully executed campaigns constructed around deep understanding of local culture — and nuanced to be highly resonant in each market.
Sanjay always has a very clear vision and spends his time focused on top priorities. He avoids the temptation to lose focus on core strategic priorities. He clearly identifies and invests behind a few priority brands, and on those brands he focuses on the core equity and avoids over proliferation of line extensions.
He sets the big objectives and then gets out of the way of local teams, enabling and empowering them to really utilize their understanding of the local consumer, the local marketing environment, and to create marketing that is timely, nimble and emotionally resonant to local consumers, while being true to the core brand meaning. Sanjay encourages teams in all of his countries to keep their strategic focus. Currently being launched into Poland, Bulgaria, Rumania, Czech Republic and the Ukraine, Oreos, in his geography, were up more than 30% last year, and again this year.
Sanjay aggressively fosters brands that provide consumers with both emotional and functional utility. That's what he believes in selling. Good product is a given, of course, but for example, the emotional utility of the Oreo brand is all about connections. Primarily aimed at Moms, Oreo campaigns help Mom help people she cares about to have those little, delightful moments of connection. Similarly, the Club Social cracker brand is about reaching young adults who want to explore the world and make the most of every moment. Club Social is like "one of the gang," an old friend making every moment a little richer and more fun.
Having lived and worked around the world, Sanjay is truly a global citizen. Before coming to Kraft Foods, he was with Fonterra Co-operative Group, a multinational dairy company based in New Zealand. At Fonterra, Sanjay served as Managing Director of the company's consumer and foodservice business. During that time, he helped turn around the consumer business.
Before joining Fonterra in 2004, Sanjay spent 27 years with Unilever in India, London and Europe, including serving as Senior Vice President, Global Beverages and Chairman of Unilever's $4 billion beverages category. The business saw accelerated growth worldwide as a result of the "Paint the World Yellow with Lipton" business program.
His background is atypical of most marketers, but Sanjay Khosla always breaks molds. He graduated with honors in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, and later completed the Harvard University Advanced Management Program. Today he serves on the Board of Directors of Best Buy and NIIT, a global information technology education company based in India. He is a trustee of the Goodman Theater in Chicago. He has led lectures on managing international brands and business at Columbia University in New York, University of Chicago and Northwestern University in Chicago, and at IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland.