One's the leader of the biggest prestige cosmetics company in the world. The other works in private equity. But both are ex-Procter & Gamble executives and are being considered for the top spot at Procter & Gamble, once AG Lafley completes his comeback as chairman and chief executive officer.
According to Reuters, the Lafley succession plan could include Fabrizio Freda, who spent two decades at the company before becoming CEO of Estee Lauder Cos Inc or Susan Arnold, former president of global business units who is now an operating partner at private equity firm Carlyle Group LP.
Current P&G executives who are being considered to succeed Lafley are Melanie Healey, group president of North America; David Taylor, group president of global home care; and Deborah Henretta, group president of global beauty care; Martin Riant, the group president of global baby care; and Giovanni Ciserani, the group president of global fabric care.
P&G declined on Thursday to comment or to make executives available for interviews. No formal search process is currently under way, and the sources said Lafley could stay on for some time to come. In a Reuters interview, Freda declined to say whether he had been approached by the P&G board. But he said, "I'm very happy at Estee Lauder Cos, and that's what I'm doing and that's what I am focused on and that's what I plan to continue doing."
A representative for Arnold declined to comment. But those in the know insist that P&G will tap a new leader who knows a thing or two about diapers and detergents. Gary Stibel, founder and CEO of New England Consulting Group and a former P&G executive, said the company is unlikely to select a candidate with no ties to it.
"It is totally unnecessary, because they have so much internal talent competing for that job that it will be a challenge to select one," Stibel said.
P&G has traditionally chosen CEOs and other top executives from within its management ranks. In 2009, Lafley picked Bob McDonald, who was the chief operating officer at the time, to take over the company. McDonald struggled with a pullback in consumer spending in the aftermath of the financial crisis and the recession. In early 2012, he unveiled a $10 billion restructuring program, cutting thousands of jobs and taking other steps to improve operations, launch new products and expand into fast-growing emerging markets.
Consultants and recruiters said they expect Lafley to remain in the top seat at P&G for at least another 12 to 18 months.