Philip Morris hires former US Steel general counsel

Jun 16, 2020
Suzanne Rich Folsom joins PMI from Manatt Phelps & Phillips

Philip Morris International (PMI) has hired Suzanne Rich Folsom as senior vice president and general counsel, leading the company’s legal, ethics and compliance function.

Folsom, who recently penned an article on dealing with crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic, will take up her new role on July 1. She succeeds Marc Firestone, who is retiring later this year. Firestone has since January 2018 held a dual role as general counsel and president of external affairs. He will continue to run the company’s external affairs function until a successor is appointed.

Folsom is joining PMI from law firm Manatt Phelps & Phillips in Washington, DC, where she co-chairs the investigations, compliance and strategic response group and was a member of the government & regulatory and cyber & privacy groups. Before that, she was general counsel, chief compliance officer and senior vice president for government affairs and global public policy at United States Steel Corporation.

Earlier in her career, Folsom held leadership positions with global entities such as AIG, ACADEMI and the World Bank, and has served in key positions for several heads of state and their families.

PMI is listed on the NYSE and incorporated in Virginia but operates from Lausanne, Switzerland, which is where Folsom will be based.

In her new position with PMI, she will report to CEO André Calantzopoulos. Among her responsibilities, according to the company, will be to ‘influence conversations aimed at creating a climate of change for better consumer choice as the company drives forward with its smoke-free transition.’ She will be counsel to PMI’s executive leadership team, board of directors and other leaders, and will ‘build support for appropriate, risk-proportionate regulatory frameworks, among other functions,’ PMI says.

‘[Folsom] comes to us with a reputation as one of the most highly regarded and experienced general [counsel] and compliance and corporate governance specialists, having operated in very complex business environments,’ says Calantzopoulos in a statement. ‘She is a champion of inclusion and diversity who has established a reputation for diligence, courage, integrity and an unwavering commitment to ethical conduct. Her vast knowledge and ability to inspire the best in the people with whom she interacts will be a tremendous asset to PMI as we continue our corporate transformation and progress toward a better, smoke-free future.

‘Together with the board and our senior leadership, I extend enormous gratitude to Marc Firestone for all he has done for PMI. Aside from several years when he served as [executive vice president] and general counsel for Kraft Foods after its spin-off, Marc has been part of the Philip Morris community since 1988. He has been a selfless and highly valued source of advice, inspiration and strategic decision-making, and has been integral to our transformation into a science and technology-based company that is providing a better way forward for tobacco-harm reduction.’

Manatt CEO and managing partner Donna Wilson says in a statement: ‘It’s bittersweet that Suzanne, an internationally-known powerhouse in the corporate governance world, is leaving our Manatt family but we are extremely proud of her and excited for her next endeavor. She is a friend and mentor to many at Manatt, and truly a friend of the firm. We wish her the very best in her new transformational role at Philip Morris.’

‘When Philips Morris International offered me the opportunity to play a leadership role in its transition to a smoke-free future, I knew I could not pass up this exciting position,’ Folsom says in a statement issued by Manatt. ‘I’m incredibly grateful to Manatt for its support of my taking this new role – especially Donna Wilson – and I cherish the relationships and friendships that I have made at the firm.’


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