Remembering Nestlé’s IR chief
Roddy Child-Villiers, the long-standing head of IR at Nestlé, passed away last week after a long battle with cancer.
A British transplant to Switzerland, Child-Villiers started his professional career as a ‘jobber’ on the London Stock Exchange before moving into the communications field at College Hill Associates and Rexam. He moved to the continent as head of communications for Philip Morris in 1999, and was then recruited by Nestlé to take charge of IR in August 2000.
From that point onwards he oversaw an IR program that drew recognition from across the IR world, including several plaudits over the years at the IR Magazine Awards – Europe. From 2010 through 2012, Child-Villiers and his team won awards for the best IR in Switzerland and for the best use of technology, with Nestlé consistently ranking in the IR Magazine Euro Top 100 since its inception.
Roddy Child-Villiers (center) picks up the 2011 IR Magazine Award for best use of technology for investor relations
Under his guidance, Nestlé was one of the first companies in the world to use the ubiquity of Apple’s iPad to back the success of its very own IR app. ‘We hadn’t thought of ourselves as being leading-edge users of technology,’ Child-Villiers quipped in an interview with IR Magazine.
Though not always convinced of the merits of social media for IR, Child-Villiers nevertheless pioneered its use – particularly on Twitter – to give investors more channels to find out about company goings-on. He seemed to immediately grasp the differences inherent in communicating over social media and built trust with followers early on by lending his face and personality to Nestlé’s tweets and videos.
Analysts and shareholders alike are consistent in their praise for Child-Villiers and his colleagues. ‘He’s always on top of things and has a great ability to translate ‘CEO speak’ into investment community language,’ wrote one respondent to the IR Magazine Investor Perception Study – Europe 2011. Another commenter drew attention to the way the IR team at Nestlé ‘always make us feel important and valued.’
Writing on the IR Society website, John Dawson, IR director at National Grid and chairman of the professional association, recalls a ‘redoubtable supporter and advocate for professional investor relations’ in Child-Villiers. ‘He leaves us having made a great contribution to the development of IR, for which we should all thank and remember him,’ Dawson adds.
Neil Stewart, IR Magazine’s editorial & research director, says he ‘will always remember Roddy from the many IR events and articles he helped us with over the years, this rakish ex-pat whose insouciance hid a real passion for his job and his company. As the evidence showed, he must have worked incredibly hard, yet he always made time to give back to the IR community.’