- Post Holdings’ Rob Vitale returned Tuesday as its CEO after taking a leave of absence to undergo radiation and chemotherapy treatment for cancer, the food manufacturer said in a statement. Vitale announced Nov. 6 that he would take an “unexpected” medical leave of absence.
- At the time, Post named Jeff Zadoks, the company’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, as interim CEO while Vitale was away.
- Vitale stepped into the CEO role at Post in 2014. He has overseen the company’s rapid growth and expansion into other categories such as peanut butter, mashed potatoes, sausage and dog food to complement its presence in cereal.
While Post has a deep executive bench and an organizational structure that likely allowed it to operate uninterrupted with Vitale out, the CPG company is undoubtedly stronger with its top executive back at the helm.
Vitale has developed a reputation as a strategic thinker and a prudent allocator of capital. He also is known to get deeply involved in deal making on a granular level and be reachable to top Post executives at night or during the weekend.
For a company that has been active in M&A for much of its time as a public company, having Vitale is hugely important not only for his understanding of Post and the industry but his connections with bankers on Wall Street.
To be sure, Vitale didn’t fully step away from the business during his medical treatment. He told analysts late last year that he had been joining Post calls and would continue to participate in the company’s business as much as he could.
“I am grateful to my family, my excellent medical team, my colleagues at Post, and all who have supported me,” Vitale said in a statement announcing his return from medical leave. “I am excited and energized about what we will accomplish in 2024 and beyond.”
Before Vitale’s medical leave, Post was divided into five segments that operated independently, with the leaders overseeing them reporting to the CEO. The structure remained in place while Vitale was away.
Post also has benefited from the fact that many of the company’s top executives, including Zadoks, have been with the business for years and were intimately familiar with its operations and strategy.
Post sales have risen from $4.6 billion in 2015, its first full fiscal year with Vitale at the helm, to about $6 billion in 2022 — a figure that excludes about $2 billion from businesses that have been divested or separately capitalized.