General Manager, North America, McNeil Nutritionals LLC, Fort Washington, Pa.
If you are one of the millions of people who have made the switch from sugar to SPLENDA®, thank Debra A. Sandler. As general manager, North America, for McNeil Nutritionals LLC, a Johnson & Johnson company, Sandler oversees marketing, sales, operations, communications and quality assurance for the company’s North American businesses, including those in Canada, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. She was responsible for the highly successful consumer launch of SPLENDA® in the United States. Today, SPLENDA® is the No. 1 selling sugar substitute in the country.
Sandler began her career at PepsiCo Inc., where she spent 13 years in marketing positions of increasing responsibility. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration, with a focus on international trade, from Hofstra University, and an M.B.A. from the Stern School of Business at New York University. She acknowledges with profound gratitude those who have made a difference in her life: her parents, who instilled in her the self-confidence she now exudes and are unfailing in their support; Maurice Cox, vice president, diversity, at Pepsi-Cola, who has been a mentor for more than 15 years; and Colin Watts, president of McNeil Nutritional, who recognized her potential.
Sandler likes others to know that she is “global in mind, body and spirit.” She was born in Venezuela, raised and educated in Trinidad and Tobago, has lived in the United States for more than 25 years and travels the world as a business executive. “There is no passion to be found in playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living,” she likes to say, quoting South Africa’s legendary freedom fighter and statesman, Nelson Mandela. It’s her favorite motivational quote, she says.
Ultimately, Sandler says, she would like to use her global expertise to influence the lives of children in developing countries.