The head of international business at General Mills, Christopher O’Leary, is leaving after nearly 20 years at the company, according to a securities filing released Wednesday.
O’Leary, executive vice president and chief operating officer of international, oversees all of General Mills’ businesses outside the U.S., which includes more than 100 countries.
The company’s international business accounted for 28 percent of General Mills’ net sales last year and in its most recent fiscal quarter. The segment posted $4.6 billion in sales in fiscal year 2016, which ended May 29.
In June, Jeff Harmening, the leader of the company’s U.S. retail unit, was named president of General Mills, a promotion that signaled he will eventually succeed Ken Powell as chief executive, the company’s top job. The Wall Street Journal reported in August that O’Leary was the other leading candidate to be Powell’s successor.
O’Leary’s last day is Dec. 31, after which he may remain in an advisory role during the transition for up to six months. The position is being dissolved, with Harmening to oversee all international business beginning on Jan. 1.
Kris Patton, a company spokeswoman, said O’Leary “hasn’t announced any plans at this point” for his future and declined to offer a reason for his departure.
Before his position at the head of international, O’Leary was president of the Meals division. He has also served as vice president of corporate development. O’Leary started his career at General Mills in December 1997 as vice president of corporate growth.
O’Leary spent 17 years at PepsiCo Inc. before joining General Mills.
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