Name: Ed Shirley Position: Retired CEO & President Company: Bacardi Limited Location: Hamilton, Bermuda Program: Undergraduate Major: Accounting
Embracing change and stretching yourself can yield big dividends in both your career and your ability to make big-picture decisions, Edward D. Shirley ’78 frequently tells Isenberg students. Following his own advice has brought the Isenberg alumnus a wealth of leadership challenges. In his 36-year career, Ed has excelled as CEO and President of Bacardi Limited (2012-2014) and in senior executive posts with Procter & Gamble and Gillette, including head of P&G’s Global and Beauty Business, which accounts for nearly half of the parent company’s revenues.
After graduating from Isenberg’s accounting program, Ed joined Gillette, spending his first decade there in accounting and finance positions. In 1991, at Gillette’s Oral B subsidiary, he moved to the marketing side of the business. “Back then,” he says, “it was a fairly risky change. But it opened doors for me and changed my perspective. It allowed me to see things through the customer’s eyes. [Previously] “as a vice president of finance, I really had no idea of what the customer wanted.”
Ed’s passion for novel experiences also encompassed overseas assignments: he was head of Gillette’s European Operations and its Braun Europe business. Following top positions with Gillette’s international businesses and the company’s purchase by Procter & Gamble, Ed moved to Cincinnati as president of its international commercial operations.
At Bacardi, which makes Bacardi Rum, Dewar’s Scotch whiskey, Grey Goose vodka, and other iconic spirits, Ed led a reevaluation and expansion of the company’s global strategies and portfolio, including its growing footprint in developing markets. He also sought to emphasize the Bacardi family’s poignant story of 150 years of innovation and resilience, including its departure from Cuba in 1960.
“My advice to you is to be adventurous and let your curiosity be your guide,” Ed once told Isenberg students. “Take some risks and broaden your horizons—even if it means deferring an immediate promotion. Those experiences will serve you and your career better in the long run.”