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Becky: Hello everyone! Welcome back to EnglishClass101.com. This is Culture Class, Season 3, Lesson 24 - The Top 5 CEOs in American Food and Agriculture. I’m Becky.
Eric: And I’m Eric. In this lesson, we'll look at 5 of the most powerful CEOs in Food and Agriculture. They're also some of the most successful and richest CEOs in the industry as well.
Becky: That's right. These are also probably CEOs that you don't hear about very often. Food and agriculture isn't as glamorous as entertainment. But they are very successful, like our first CEO.
Eric: Exactly! Number 5 in our top 5 CEOs in Food and Agriculture is Irene B Rosenfeld. Irene has been in the food industry for over 30 years and has worked for companies like General Foods, Frito-Lay, Pepsico, and Kraft foods.
Becky: She’s currently the Chairman of Kraft Foods and CEO of Mondelez International, Inc.
Eric: We thought it was very strange for someone to be the chairperson of one company and CEO of a different company, since both companies are in the food business.
Becky: That’s right. Usually, that’s considered a conflict of interest since she wants both companies to succeed, but the companies would be competitors.
Eric: However, an interesting thing happened here. In 2006, Rosenfeld was placed as the CEO of Kraft foods and she quickly became one of the most powerful women in the USA.
Becky: That’s right. She was placed 2nd on Forbes list of the top 10 most powerful women in 2010.
Eric: Then Kraft foods decided it was going to split. This is important because, as the chairperson and CEO of Kraft Foods, she decided that the company was going to split.
Becky: She then placed herself as the CEO of the new company. This new company is Mondelez International.
Eric: So even though they are technically two different companies within the same market, in reality, they're the same and she's still chairperson.
Becky: Oh, the strange things that business people do! Who’s next on our list?
Eric: Number 4 of our top 5 CEOs in food and agriculture is Muhtar Kent.
Becky: Mr. Kent is the chairman and CEO of the Coca-Cola Company. You’ll remember from our previous lesson that the Coca-Cola Company is one of the most powerful companies in food and agriculture.
Eric: Kent is one of the classic stories of rags to riches. The phrase “rags to riches” means that the person began with very little money, but through hard work, became very successful.
Becky: For example, Kent started out driving and delivering Coca-Cola throughout the United States. Through this, he learned about the logistics and marketing of the Coca-Cola company.
Eric: From there he quickly rose through the ranks within the Coca-Cola company to eventually become the chief executive officer and chairman of the board.
Becky: Mr. Kent makes a total of $11.8 million per year and he is ranked sixth among all executives within the area of food and agriculture.
Eric: He really does have a cool story. Who’s next on our list?
Becky: Number 3 of our top 5 CEOs in food and agriculture is Howard Schultz.
Eric: Howard Schultz is the CEO and chairman of the board of Starbucks. Starbucks, if you don’t know, is the world’s largest coffeehouse company.
Eric: In other words, there are more Starbucks coffeehouses than any other coffeehouse company.
Becky: Schultz is currently 59 years old and ranked among the top 500 richest people in the United States, with a total net worth of just over $1.5 billion.
Eric: His total compensation, including his salary and all of his stock options and other bonuses, is just under $30 million per year.
Becky: Schultz has also authored two books detailing how he built Starbucks and the effort he went through to make it happen. Okay, who’s next on our list?
Eric: Number 2 of our Top 5 CEOs in Food and Agriculture is Donald Thompson.
Becky: This was an interesting person to research, for several reasons. Donald Thompson is another rags to riches story, even more so than Mr. Kent who we talked about before.
Eric: He was raised by his grandmother and was always a hard worker. One interesting thing is that he has several university degrees, but none of them are in business.
Becky: Exactly! Most CEOs have MBAs and degrees in finance or something similar. Thompson is an engineer!
Eric: However, it was that edge that made him so amazing. After he’d graduated from Purdue in engineering, he applied for an engineering job at McDonald’s.
Becky: He designed robotics and control circuits for their cooking equipment. From there it was just climbing the corporate ladder to the top.
Eric: Now, not only is he one of the best-paid CEOs in all of food and agriculture, but he’s also one of the most respected.
Becky: And he’s respected because he’s a happy person. One article mentioned that his employees appreciate how he’s always smiling, even when there are huge corporate problems to take care of. He doesn’t get depressed or angry. He’s just consistently happy.
Becky: Okay, so who’s our number 1?
Eric: Number 1 of our Top 5 CEOs in Food and Agriculture is Hugh Grant.
Becky: The actor?
Eric: No! They do share the name, but that’s where the similarities end. Hugh Grant is the CEO of Monsanto company.
Becky: In a previous lesson, we spoke about how powerful the Monsanto company is because of their dominance in the biotechnology market and their many patents regarding genetically engineered seeds and crops.
Eric: He’s also the chairman of the board of directors for Monsanto. His compensation is estimated at just under $30 million per year.
Becky: And he’s very good at what he does. During the financial crisis of 2008-2009, Monsanto consistently posted profits and in 2009 was making so much money they had to raise their predictions for how much money they would make.
Eric: Under Hugh Grant’s leadership, Monsanto has gone from a large multinational seed corporation to the largest chemical, seed, and biotechnology firm in the world. Monsanto is nearly twice the size of its nearest competitor.
Becky: An interesting fact about Hugh Grant is that he’s not American, he's from Scotland. He’s also one of the youngest CEOs on our list, having assumed that role when he was 45 years old.
Eric: And that’s all for this lesson.
Becky: Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next time!
Eric: Bye!

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