After Diageo CEO Sir Ivan Menezes passed away this week, The Shout reached out to people across the Australian drinks trade asking for their tributes to a man who had a significant impact on the global drinks industry.

Current Managing Director of Diageo Australia, Angus McPherson said: “This week our Diageo family is mourning the loss of our inspiring and talented leader, Sir Ivan Menezes.

“It was an incredible honour to work for a company lead by Ivan, a truly humble, endearing and generous man whose passion for this business and our iconic brands was palpable.

“He may have left us far too soon but his vision and his legacy will live on and will continue to inspire every Diageo employee for years to come.”

That sentiment of Sir Ivan being humble and inspiring was one carried through many of the tributes.

Former MD of Diageo Australia and now MD of Lion, David Smith said: “Ivan was a wonderful person, a truly inspirational leader fiercely caring about brands, people, the business, the industry, and always, not only doing the right things, but doing things right. It’s so sad he’s gone, he will be greatly missed in all corners of the world.”

One Australian industry leader, who requested to be anonymous, said: “Ivan’s humility and sense of fun was infectious, he was a true gentleman. Business for him was personal, he loved our people, our brands and our customers and was a passionate advocate for our industry through his support of responsible drinking, sustainability, and diversity and inclusion.

“His impact on the lives of so many is immeasurable and that includes me; my heart goes out to his family. He will be sorely missed by so many.”

Andy Gaunt, the General Manager of Fever-Tree Australia worked at Diageo from 2000 to 2012, he said: “Ivan was one of those unique individuals who had a magnetic style when you met him or listened to him speak. He made you feel like he was your mentor, regardless of how well he knew you or the job you did, and he was one of the most humble but compelling leaders I’ve worked with.”

David Vitale, the Founder of Starward, said: “Ivan was a believer in renewal and innovation in spirits. You only have to look at what has been achieved at Starward to see the foresight and leadership he had.

“In 2014/15 off the back of billions of dollars invested in Scotch whisky, Diageo saw the potential in a fledgling whisky brand housed in an old Qantas maintenance hangar. They didn’t need to do it, they wanted to do it. His ability to see the spirits landscape differently will have a generational impact on the way the world drinks.”

Former Diageo Director David Halliday also worked with Sir Ivan, he said: “Ivan became CEO shortly before I joined Diageo as Commercial Director ANZ July 2013. His first year was an incredibly challenging one, not helped by the Chinese government banning the advertising and gifting of luxury goods, which decimated sales of ultra-premium and luxury goods, of which Johnnie Walker Blue label was one of many luxury alcohol brands impacted.

“He led the business through a significant transformation phase and enjoyed several years of incredible success. I had the good fortune to spend time with Ivan at the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, Scotland. He was a true gentleman and warmly greeted the Australian customers I had invited to the event. Sincere condolences to Ivan’s family and friends.”

Alexandre Ricard, chairman and CEO of French spirits giant Pernod Ricard, said: “Ivan was one of the first people to call me personally when I was appointed as chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard, a gesture I have always remembered,” Ricard recalled of his appointment in 2015.

“In a competitive business world, Ivan remained a profoundly genuine and authentic person.”

Mark Brown, the CEO of Sazerac, said: “I had the pleasure of getting to know Ivan over the past 20 years, developed a great deal of admiration and respect for his journey and his ultimate success culminating with his knighthood earlier this year despite having to deal with the challenging times that publicly traded companies invariably have to deal with.

“It is incredibly sad that we will not see the next chapter of Ivan’s stellar career, Ivan had so much more yet to offer. He will be missed by those who knew him and lives he impacted.”

In a statement Brown-Forman said: “Brown-Forman sends our deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Sir Ivan Menezes. As CEO of Diageo, Ivan’s influence could be felt in every market where beverage alcohol is sold.

“He was an admired and well-respected leader within our industry, and he will be deeply missed.”

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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