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Carlos Gutierrez

In office
February 7, 2005 – January 20, 2009
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Donald Evans
Succeeded by Gary Locke

Born November 4, 1953 (1953-11-04) (age 56)
Flag of Cuba.svg Havana, Cuba
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Edilia Gutierrez
Children Carlos Gutierrez, Jr.
Erika Gutierrez
Karina Gutierrez

Carlos Miguel Gutierrez (originally Gutiérrez) (born November 4, 1953) served as the 35th U.S. Secretary of Commerce from 2005 to 2009. Gutierrez is a former Chairman of the Board and CEO of the Kellogg Company.[1]




Early life and career

Gutierrez was born in Havana, Cuba, the son of a pineapple plantation owner. Gutierrez's circuitous path from Havana to the corner office at Kellogg's headquarters in Battle Creek, Mich., began in 1960, just shy of his seventh birthday, with an ominous knock at the door. Fidel Castro's regime had deemed Carlos's father, a successful pineapple merchant, an enemy of the state. He was held for a day or so and then released.[2] Faced with the expropriation of their property following the Cuban Revolution, his family fled for the United States in 1960 when he was six years old. Like many other Cuban American exiles, they settled in Miami. For a time they lived as if they were on vacation. When it became apparent they would not be going home, Pedro (Carlos' father) accepted a position with the Heinz Company in Mexico and later started his own business.[3] Gutierrez learned his first words of English from the bellhop at the hotel where they initially stayed and, some years later, he and his family acquired United States citizenship.[4]

Gutierrez studied business administration at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education campus in Querétaro. He joined Kellogg's in 1975, at the age of 22, as a sales representative and management trainee. One of his early assignments included driving a delivery-truck route around local stores.

Gutierrez rose through the management ranks, and in January 1990, he was promoted to corporate vice president of product development at the company's headquarters in Battle Creek, Michigan, and in July of the same year, he became executive vice president of Kellogg USA. In January 1999, he was elected to the company's Board of Directors and by April, he was appointed president and CEO. Faced with a global decline or stagnation in cereal sales, Carlos Gutierrez took the helm at Kellogg and at that time became the only Latino CEO of a Fortune 500 company.[5] Gutierrez was also the youngest CEO in the company’s nearly 100-year history[4].

Gutierrez's strategy, known as Volume to Value, was to grow sales by shifting resources to higher-margin products, such as Special K (which appeals to weight-conscious women), Kashi (targeted at the health-food set), and Nutri-Grain bars (breakfast on the go.) Lower margin cereals include Kellogg's Corn Flakes, which are easily copied and considered commodities. The extra money would go to fund advertising, promotions, and R&D, which would beget further high-margin sales growth. "Volume is a means to an end--not an end," he would say. "What counts is dollars." [6]

In 2004, Fortune Magazine dubbed Gutierrez as "The Man Who Fixed Kellogg", and attributed his success to "taking the slick salesmanship, financial discipline, and marketing savvy that he learned in his youth and blending it with disarming charisma, steely resolve, and an utter lack of pretension that you wouldn't expect in one so nattily dressed." The magazine also added that, "He even makes golf shirts look debonair." [7]

Secretary of Commerce

On November 29, 2004, Gutierrez was chosen by President George W. Bush to be his next term's Secretary of Commerce, succeeding Donald Evans. On the same day, Kellogg's Board of Directors accepted Gutierrez's resignation as Chairman of the Board and CEO, to be effective upon his confirmation by the Senate and swearing in. The board selected James M. Jenness to succeed Gutierrez as Chairman and CEO. It also elected Kellogg President and Chief Operating Officer A.D. David Mackay to the board. Gutierrez was confirmed unanimously by the Senate on January 24, 2005 and sworn in on February 7, 2005.[8][9] He has a wife, Edilia, one son, Carlos Jr. and two daughters, Erika and Karina.[4]

As Secretary of Commerce, Gutierrez also served as Co-Chair of the U.S. Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba.[10] Secretary Gutierrez was actively involved in U.S. – Cuba policy alongside Co-Chair Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Gutierrez was also one of the President’s point men working with Congress to pass comprehensive immigration legislation, an issue he sees as one of the greatest domestic social issues of our time. He believes a successful immigration solution must focus first on securing our borders, but must also address immigrants contribution to our economy and the importance of American unity[4].

Gutierrez played a key role in the passage of CAFTA-DR, a landmark trade agreement that expanded opportunities for U.S. exports throughout Latin America. [11] Gutierrez was also instrumental in promoting the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, and in 2006 Gutierrez called for Congress to “work with us and pass the pending Free Trade Agreements with Colombia, Korea and Panama, so we can have fair, two-way trade with our allies and friends.” [12]

From 2005-2010, Gutierrez and his wife, Edilia, were named to Washington Life Magazine's "100 Most Invited List", a guide to the Washington social scene. In 2006, the magazine noted, "This suave Cuban refugee and former Kellogg CEO is a fantastic dancer with a refreshingly down to earth wife."[13] Since 2007, his eldest children, Carlos Jr. and Erika, have appeared on Washington Life Magazine's annual "The Young & The Guest List", which names the 250 most influential Washingtonians under 40.[14]

On December 6, 2007, Washington editor of Harper's Magazine Ken Silverstein reported that Gutierrez had Adnan Oktar's Atlas of Creation—a book that advocates Islamic creationism and blames Charles Darwin for modern terrorism, including the 9/11 attacks—for display on a stand at the entrance to his US government office. Gutierrez's office did not respond when asked whether the book had been purchased or mailed unsolicited to his office.[15]

Post-Bush administration

Gutierrez is a founder and Chairman of Global Political Strategies (GPS), an international strategic consulting service and a division of APCO Worldwide, a Washington-based global communications firm.[16]

In February 2009, Gutierrez was named a Scholar at The University Of Miami’s Institute For Cuban And Cuban American Studies (ICCAS).[17] Gutierrez will help ICCAS’ Cuba Business Roundtable (CBR), an ongoing program that recruits businesses who are interested in information and professional advice on Cuba to be ready to do business in a post-embargo, post-Castro Cuba.[17] Gutierrez serves as keynote speaker in ICCAS’ Cuba Transition Project seminars in Eastern Europe, Latin America and Canada.[17] In April 2009, Gutierrez joined the board of trustees of the University of Miami.[18] He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.[19]

On February 21, 2009, the Wall Street Journal incorrectly reported that Gutierrez remained unemployed, along with a significant majority of George W. Bush's 3,000 political appointees who are seeking full-time employment.[20][21] The article was incorrect because Gutierrez was never unemployed and became involved in a series of business activities immediately after leaving government, such as joining the board of United Technologies, a large military contractor on February 9th - two weeks before the incorrect Wall Street Journal article was published.[22] [23] In the article, Gutierrez commented that "This is not a great time for anyone to be job hunting, including numerous former political appointees." He added that he hopes to run a company like Kellogg again because "I have a lot of energy."[24] In March 2010, Gutierrez said he would not like to return to a CEO spot at a foodmaker. Gutierrez said that as commerce secretary, he had something different to do each day, whereas, "Business is pretty one-dimensional."[25]

According to press releases, Gutierrez now serves on the Board of Directors of United Technologies Corporation,[23] Occidental Petroleum,[26] GLW Corning,[27] and Intelligent Global Pooling Systems.[28][29]

He is also a television news contributor for the business news television channel CNBC[30].


External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Donald Evans
United States Secretary of Commerce
Served under: George W. Bush

February 7, 2005 - January 20, 2009
Succeeded by
Gary Locke


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