Irene Rosenfeld ‘75, MS ‘77, PhD ‘80

Irene Rosenfeld earned three Cornell degrees: Bachelor’s in psychology in 1975, MS in business in 1977, and PhD from Johnson in marketing and statistics in 1980.

Ms. Rosenfeld built a storied career that began with consumer research and ended with leadership of a Fortune 100 company, along the way engineering complex takeovers, restructurings, and turnarounds of key global brands. She helmed Kraft Foods from 2006 to 2011 and attests that her willingness to change was the key to steering Kraft through the financial crisis, climate effects, and strained consumer purchasing power. Subsequently, as head of Mondelez International, Kraft’s global snacking company, she oversaw the successful refashioning of the Oreo cookie for Chinese snackers, earned high marks as an employer in emerging markets, and turned public attention toward hunger, obesity, and sustainable agriculture. “We focused on what matters, we kept reinventing ourselves, we found the right blend of global and locus,” she explained. “And we have a higher purpose for our work.” Forbes has named her among the 100 most powerful women in the world, multiple times.

Ms. Rosenfeld excelled at basketball, volleyball, and tennis at Cornell, often serving as team captain, experience she cites as “a key factor in my leadership development.” In remarks she shared with an audience upon receiving the 2014 L. Joseph Thomas award (named for one of her most revered Cornell mentors), she advised Johnson’s future leaders to “make a difference, to take risks, and to bring one’s best self to every task and situation” “Ask for what you want,” she added.