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Procter & Gamble chooses 35-year company veteran as new CEO

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Procter & Gamble (PG) has named a new CEO for the third time in six years.

The consumer products giant, whose portfolio ranges from Pampers diapers to Gillette razors to Crest toothpaste and dozens of other brands, said on Tuesday that 35-year company veteran David Taylor will succeed A.G. Lafley in the top job on Nov. 1, with Lafley staying on as executive chairman.

Two years ago, Lafley returned to the helm after his hand-picked successor, Robert McDonald (now head of the Veterans Administration) left following a stint that disappointed investors and employees.

This time, the succession planning was different, said Lafley, whose first run as CEO ran from 2000 to 2009, after being asked what the board had done to avoid a repeat of his earlier attempt at retiring.

“The process was different this time. It was 360 degrees, it was longer, it was more thorough,” Lafley told Fortune. The P&G board looked at external as well as internal candidates.

Taylor, 57, won the job in part because in the course of his 35-year career at P&G, he has worked in virtually every business unit in the company and in several regions, giving him the breadth and depth of knowledge needed to run a complex 178-year-old operation.

In the two years since Lafley’s return, P&G has made it a priority to slim down and shed weak brands, as well as look for new avenues of growth, two areas where Taylor has made his mark.

Taylor oversaw the expansion of the billion-dollar Febreze air freshener brand, as well as the divestiture of brands like Iams pet food last year. More recently, he played a key role in P&G’s sale of 43 beauty brands, including Clairol and Covergirl, to Coty (COTY) for $13 billion.

“We are trying to take a simpler more focused company and make it faster growing, more profitable, and more reliably and sustainably create value for our shareholders—it’s that simple,” Lafley said. “If the past is the best predictor of the future, I think the board has made a very good choice here.”

The company has slimmed down to 10 categories and 65 brands.

Lafley, who will act as executive chairman for an extended, unspecified period, will advise the company on issues such as strategy, innovation, and M&A. Taylor, whom Lafley has known for 20 years, will oversee the sprawling company’s operations.