Nestle Zone Asia CEO Wan Ling Martello steps down

Wan Ling Martello, CEO of Zone Asia, Oceania and Sub-Saharan Africa (AOA) has decided to leave Nestlé after seven successful years at the company on 31 December 2018 to explore new horizons. Martello joined the group in 2011 as chief financial officer. Her intellectual rigor, strategic foresight and extensive international experience served her well as she revitalized the finance function and established a clear portfolio management framework for the whole Group.

In 2015, she was appointed as CEO of Zone AOA, a business covering 95 countries, which at the time faced serious headwinds. Under her leadership, Zone AOA became the most profitable and fastest growing business within the Nestlé Group. According to Nestle, Martello’s passion for digital transformation and her thorough understanding of the new retail economy gave a positive impetus to the whole company. Her ability to attract talent, to build high-performing teams and to inspire people turned many challenges in Zone AOA into opportunities.

The board of directors have appointed Chris Johnson, currently head of group human resources and business services to succeed Wan Ling Martello (pictured) as CEO of Zone AOA, effective 1 January 2019. During his highly successful 35-year career with the company, Johnson has held key leadership roles in markets, businesses and global functions, with extensive experience in Asia.  In 1998, he was appointed as market head of Nestlé Taiwan. From 2000, Johnson pioneered and led the worldwide development of the Globe program and the implementation of IT business solutions. He then became head in Japan in 2007, and was appointed as head of zone Americas in January 2011.

Mark Schneider, CEO, said: "I would like to thank Martello wholeheartedly for all her great achievements. Her drive and her enthusiasm for entrepreneurship are a great motivation for all of us. While I regret to see her leave Nestlé, I respect her decision. At the same time, we are excited to announce Johnson as her successor. Johnson held various senior leadership roles at Nestlé and we are convinced that his extensive and longstanding business experience in the Asia Pacific region will support our significant growth ambitions there. Chris is a growth-oriented executive and his creativity as well as his engaging style will help us to take our business in Zone Asia, Oceania and Sub-Saharan Africa to the next level."

According to Nestlé’s nine-month sales for 2018, Zone AOA saw 4.4% organic growth. China reported mid single-digit organic growth, significantly above the prior year and Southeast Asia and South Asia saw mid single-digit organic growth.

Zone AOA delivered consistent mid single-digit organic growth, supported by all geographies and categories. China saw mid single-digit growth, driven by innovations in infant nutrition, coffee and culinary. Southeast Asia saw solid growth, led by Vietnam and Indonesia with Milo and Bear Brand. The South Asian region also delivered mid single-digit growth, with strong momentum in Maggi, Nescafé and KitKat. Growth in sub-Saharan Africa was based on strong contributions from Maggi and Milo in the Central and West Africa region.

Japan and Oceania had positive growth despite difficult trading environments, helped by the launches of Nescafé Gold and KitKat Gold in Australia. Overall for the Zone, infant nutrition and Purina petcare accelerated in the third quarter, posting high single-digit growth.