The board of directors of CSM Bakery Solutions, a global leader in the baking industry, has elected Marianne Kirkegaard president and chief executive officer.

Kirkegaard, previously CSM's senior vice president of markets and chief commercial officer, succeeds Robert A. Sharpe, who is leaving the company to pursue other opportunities.

"Marianne Kirkegaard is an extremely effective leader and builder of businesses," said James Singh, chairman of the CSM board of directors. "In her five years with CSM, she has played a key role in articulating our value proposition, creating our marketing, sales and business development capabilities, and building strong customer and industry relationships. She is the right person to lead CSM forward.

"We would also like to thank Bob Sharpe for his leadership during CSM's formative phase," Singh said. "In building a strong leadership team and forging one global business culture out of three separate entities, Bob has provided the elements that constitute a solid foundation for growth."

Since joining CSM in 2011, Kirkegaard has served in senior marketing, sales and commercial roles, including senior vice president, products and marketing, as well as her most recent position as chief commercial officer. She has spearheaded the globalization and digitization of the company's sales and marketing capabilities and led the development of new category and channel strategies as well as the optimization of the company's product portfolio.

Kirkegaard joined CSM from Unilever, where she spent 20 years in various commercial general management roles of increasing seniority. She has also held executive positions at Carlsberg Group and the Coca-Cola Company.

Kirkegaard is a member of the board of directors of AAK, a Swedish-Danish company producing high value-added vegetable oils and fats, and of Dansk Supermarked Group, the market leader in retail in Denmark.

She holds an Executive M.B.A. from the Scandinavian International Management Institute and a Master's degree from the Aarhus School of Business.

CSM Bakery Solutions provides bakery ingredients, products and services for retail and food service markets as well as artisan and industrial bakeries. The company has more than 8,500 employees and serves customers in 100-plus countries, providing specialized ingredients and finished products. CSM’s bakery brands include BakeMark, Brill, Meister Marken, Multifoods, Waldkorn, and Westco.