Mike Fernandez to retire from Cargill

VP of global issues management Ruth Rawling will take interim charge as Cargill searches for a replacement.

MINNEAPOLIS: Mike Fernandez is leaving Cargill after nearly six years leading communications, government relations, brand and marketing, and corporate social responsibility at the food and agricultural giant.

Fernandez departs the largest privately held corporation and largest global food-and-ingredients company effective June 4.

Ruth Rawling, VP of global issues management, will succeed Fernandez on an interim basis as Cargill conducts an internal and external search for a permanent replacement. Like Fernandez, Rawling will report to Cargill chairman and CEO David MacLennan.

In a message to Cargill staffers, MacLennan said: "During Mike’s tenure, corporate affairs has done much to enhance Cargill’s reputation, transparency, stakeholder engagement and visibility on key issues including food security and environmental sustainability."

Fernandez joined Cargill in 2010 as corporate vice president, corporate affairs.

"Thanks to his leadership, corporate affairs developed the company’s Thrive brand positioning, advanced our digital and online capabilities, and helped us celebrate Cargill’s 150th anniversary," added MacLennan.

Fernandez told PRWeek via email that, while he is retiring from Cargill, he is looking forward to the next chapter of his career.

"I love helping organizations drive results and make a difference in the world," he added. "In the coming months I’ll spend some time thinking where I can best do that next."

Prior to Cargill, Fernandez served 20 years as a CCO at companies including State Farm Insurance, ConAgra Foods, Cigna, and US West. Prior to that, he served in marketing and PR roles at Kodak and was press secretary to U.S. Senator Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, where he was the youngest ever U.S. Senate press secretary and only the second Latino.

Fernandez was inducted into the PRWeek Hall of Fame in December 2015. In the past 12 months he also received the Institute for Public Relations’ Alexander Hamilton Medal, the Hispanic Public Relations Association’s first Pioneer Award, and the PRSA Foundation’s Paladin Award. In 2013, he received the Plank Center’s Milestones in Mentoring Award.

"Cargill has been an extraordinary opportunity," he said. "Working on matters such as global food security and environmental sustainability our team has not only helped the company be more successful, it has also made a difference in the world in ways that helped customers and others thrive."

As VP of global issues management since 2013, Rawling has played a key role in Cargill’s issues and stakeholder management and corporate social responsibility.

From 1997 to 2013, she led Cargill’s corporate affairs in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Prior to that, she was a manager in government relations for the company.

Before joining Cargill in 1993, Rawling worked for the UK Ministry of Agriculture in London, and the European Commission and UK Foreign Service in Brussels.

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