CINCINNATI — The Vatican doesn’t elect Popes who’ve never been priests, and Procter & Gamble Co. doesn’t hire CEOs who never worked as brand managers.
When Jon Moeller replaces David Taylor as CEO of the Cincinnati-based consumer products giant in November, he’ll be the first P&G boss to rise through the company’s financial management ranks. His resume includes 11 years as chief financial officer, none as brand manager.
Because it’s never happened before, it’s only natural to wonder whether that’s the right choice.
“Someone looking at it in that vein might have some concern,” said Jim Hagerty, CEO of Bartlett Wealth Management downtown. “Will this cement too much of a cost and bottom-line focus that in the long run might shortchange innovation and the risks that you need to take to fortify growth?”
Hagerty thinks Moeller is up to the task, but “he’ll need to manage that very carefully.”
His current boss said Moeller has all the experience he needs to lead P&G into the future.
“Jon’s got a tremendous background,” Taylor told reporters in an earnings call this morning. “Yes, he’s come from a deep financial background, but he’s been chief operating officer the last several years and even before that as the chief financial officer, Jon worked close with me and the leadership team in all the categories.”
Taylor said Moeller helped develop the strategies that caused P&G shares to rise 75% in the last three years. By cutting costs to enable new investments in marketing and product innovation, P&G restored sales growth after languishing for years.
“With the structure we have today, each of the business leaders is accountable for the businesses and the brands they lead,” Taylor added. “The CEO’s role and the COO’s role is to help lead the overall strategy for the company, integrate all the different efforts coming from different individuals but to be very much in a position of amplifying and supporting the outstanding leaders that run the businesses so. I think Jon is very well positioned and he’s got a broad range of skills and experiences.”
Moeller’s financial acumen will come in handy as P&G navigates a challenging year ahead, said Jim Russell, portfolio manager for Bahl and Gaynor Investment Counsel downtown.
“Procter & Gamble is seeing considerable pressure from costs,” Russell said. “Commodities, transportation, logistics, not to mention labor.”
So, the company’s next CEO will have to navigate how and when to raise prices, as well as which expenses can be cut without sacrificing growth.
“We think the CFO choice here, especially where Jon Moeller’s concerned, is just a perfect fit,” Russell said. “He checks all the boxes.”
Russell and Hagerty expect few changes to P&G’s corporate strategy when Moeller takes the helm in November.
“You’ve elevated the defensive coordinator to the head coaching position, but he’s been part of the coordinator and part of the winning team for some time,” Hagerty said. “So, I wouldn’t look for any significant change in direction relative to what they’ve done.”
Taylor expects Moeller to be active in civic leadership, just as all P&G CEOs have been over the years.
"Procter & Gamble’s deeply committed to Cincinnati and to the Greater Cincinnati area,” Taylor said. “Hopefully you’ve seen that demonstrated the last couple years. I’ve had the pleasure and honor of leading a United Way campaign and also the Freestore Foodbank campaign … Jon is chair I believe of the Art Museum board. He’s been active in the community. Jon will find his spaces just like I did.”