The world’s fifth-largest food and beverage company, Kraft-Heinz, recently announced 29-year-old David Knopf is to be its CFO.
Knopf’s appointment makes him the organisation’s youngest-ever CFO – having graduated from university only seven years ago.
Not much is known about the baby-faced Princeton graduate who is grazing 30, except that he worked for 3G Capital Partners on two of the biggest mergers in the last decade – Burger King’s merger with Canadian chain, Tim Horton’s and Kraft’s merger with H.J. Heinz.
The outcome of the Kraft-Heinz deal was Knopf’s appointment as vice president of finance and head of the Planters nuts category at the business, as well as being Head of Global Budget & Business Planning, Zero-based budgeting, and Financial & Strategic planning.
Now, as the current CFO Paulo Basilio becomes President of Kraft Heinz’s US business, Knopf has been asked to fill his shoes.
There is a lot of speculation over this appointment – the average age of a CFO is 52 – and it could be seen as risky to appoint someone with less than ten years’ experience as the person in charge of the company coffers.
Goldman Sachs alum, Knopf, has been brought in to help boost flagging sales, and according to Bloomberg, Kraft-Heinz has not posted a growth in sales since the merger two years ago, due in part to online sales beginning to overtake in-store sales and a consumer shift towards healthier food.
However, according to some commentators, the appointment becomes less surprising against the culture of private equity firm, 3G Capital. The CEO of Restaurant Brands International, formed from the Burger King and Tim Horton’s deal Knopf worked on – is led by Daniel Schwartz, who was just 32 when he stepped into the role five years ago, with a then 28-year-old, Joshua Kobza, in the role of CFO.
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The appointment is also less about age and more about talent – David Knopf, at the ‘tender’ age of 29, has already worked on two of the largest and most high-profile m&a deals in the food and beverage industry and it is because of this skill and intelligence at such a young age, that he has been appointed to the role of CFO, rather than in spite of it.
In an article published in Fortune, Geoff Colvin describes 3G’s management model as: “meritocracy, broadly defined. Every employee must justify his existence every day. That’s great news for the very best performers; they are promoted with speed that is unheard-of in lumbering old food companies.”
Kraft Heinz is on a path to expansion, a push that culminated in the failed attempt to acquire Unilever earlier this year, for $143 billion, and it will be up to Knopf to help steer this huge global brand forward.
So, as Knopf prepares for his move into one of the top finance jobs in America, here are three things you didn’t know about him:
1. He is from Kentucky
Knopf grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, USA. He attended the independent Louisville Collegiate School, which is where Jane Metcalfe, the co-founder of Wired Magazine, also attended.
Louisville was one of only two cities in the state of Kentucky to vote for Hilary Clinton in the 2016 election, with Donald Trump receiving a 62% vote overall from the state.
2. He has a middle name
The full name of Kraft Heinz’s new CFO is David Henry Knopf.
3. He is married
According to an Amazon wedding gift registry, Knopf married Laura Robertson in 2016, who also went to Princeton University.