Carlos Miguel Gutierrez (originally Gutiérrez; born November 4, 1953) is an American former CEO and former U.S. Cabinet Member who is currently a Co-Chair of Albright Stonebridge Group, a strategic advisory firm.
Gutierrez was born in Havana, Cuba, the son of a pineappleplantation owner. Gutierrez is of Spanish and French descent. As a successful businessman, his father was deemed an enemy of the state by Fidel Castro's regime. Faced with the expropriation of their property following the Cuban Revolution, Gutierrez's family fled for the United States in 1960 when he was six years old. Like many other Cuban American exiles, they settled in Miami. When it became apparent they would not be going home, Gutierrez's father accepted a position with the H. J. Heinz Company in Mexico and later started his own business. 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.
Gutierrez joined Kellogg's in Mexico 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. Gutierrez was also the youngest CEO in the company’s nearly 100-year history.
Gutierrez's strategy, known as "Volume to Value," was to increase sales by focusing resources on higher-margin products. Higher-margin products targeted specific markets and included products such as Special K, Kashi, and Nutri-Grain bars. Extra income would fund advertising, promotions, and R&D, which would encourage further high-margin sales growth. "Volume is a means to an end--not an end," he would say. "What counts is dollars."
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."
On November 29, 2004, Gutierrez was chosen by PresidentGeorge 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.
As Secretary of Commerce, Gutierrez also served as Co-Chair of the U.S. Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba. 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.
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. 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.” He also led the first-ever domestic trade mission to the Gulf region in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
On February 21, 2009, the Wall Street Journal 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. According to the article, 25% to 30% of those officials have found new jobs, a statistic notably lower than when Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton left the White House. The article notes that "at least half those presidents' senior staffers landed employment within a month after the administration ended." 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." However, according to a press release from United Technologies Corporation, Gutierrez joined the company's board of directors on February 9, several days prior to the publication of the Wall Street Journal article.
According to press releases, Gutierrez also serves on the Board of Directors of Occidental Petroleum, GLW Corning, and Intelligent Global Pooling Systems. He is also a television news contributor for the business news television channel CNBC. In March 2010, Gutierrez said he would not like to return to a CEO spot at a foodmaker, because as commerce secretary, he had something different to do each day, whereas, "Business is pretty one-dimensional."
He was also a vice chairman of Citigroup in the Institutional Clients Group and member of the Senior Strategic Advisory Group.
In 2013, Gutierrez was a signatory to an amicus curiae brief submitted to the Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage during the Hollingsworth v. Perry case.
Today, as a chair of the Albright Stonebridge Group, Gutierrez uses his expertise from both the public and private sector to contribute to the firm’s management and international trade and investment strategies of behalf of clients. His extensive knowledge of Latin American and Asian markets, specifically, and commercial diplomacy is constantly called on in his current role as chair.