President, Natural & Organic Operating Unit at General Mills
Thursday, February 21, 2019
Blake Campus (Hopkins), Bovey Chapel
As president of the General Mills natural and organic operating unit, Carla Vernón leads financial and environmental stewardship strategy for the company's $1 billion portfolio of natural and organic food brands, which include Annie's, Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen, EPIC, and Immaculate Baking. Under Carla's leadership, General Mills has become the second largest producer of branded organic foods in the U.S.
Known as a business and culture transformation specialist, Carla has restored growth and category leadership to a wide cross-section of billion-dollar businesses within General Mills including Cheerios, Yoplait and Nature Valley. Prior to her current role, Carla restored growth to the $1 billion Nature Valley brand (the world's top selling granola bar brand) resulting in the highest level of unit sales in the brand's history and drove unprecedented results on LÄRABAR, quadrupling growth in six months. Carla's career with General Mills has also included time in the company's corporate strategy and mergers and acquisition teams.
Outside of General Mills, Carla has served on the national board of directors for the Make-a-Wish Foundation and the advisory board for the Wisconsin School of Business's Center for Brand and Product Management. Carla is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute and a member of the Alumni Society (for Latino senior leaders). Prior to joining General Mills, Carla worked for U.S. Senator Carol Moseley-Braun and the Nature Conservancy. Carla received her bachelor's degree in ecology and evolutionary biology from Princeton University and an MBA from the University of Texas, Austin (as a Consortium fellow).
In her Breakfast at Blake presentation, "Food Matters: Looking to Our Grocery Cart for Hopeful Solutions to Climate Change," Carla shared her journey from being a little girl making mud pies on the sidewalk to running billion dollar food brands — and how she is leading those brands to make big changes in agriculture to reduce climate change.