David MacLennan

Cargill Inc.

David MacLennan is transforming the country’s largest privately held company. He spent the past two years closing or exiting lower-profit operations, a strategy expected to pay off handsomely in fiscal 2017. First-quarter profits, announced in October, soared 66 percent, to $852 million, even though Cargill’s overall sales fell 1.5 percent. An adamant proponent of traditional agriculture and genetically modified (GM) products, Cargill recently ventured into non-GM with high oleic sunflower oil, cane sugar and the sweetener Erythritol. Why the shift? Consumers’ stomachs are increasingly tied to their values, and MacLennan has taken that to heart—and to the boardroom.