The life and career of Rick Searer might best be characterized as a commitment to three key concepts: lifelong learning, organizational leadership, and the teaching and development of others.
Searer's educational experiences consist of the following: graduation from Tyrone Area High School in 1971, a B.A. in Religious Studies from Penn State University in 1975, an M.S. in Educational Administration from Indiana University in 1977, and an M.B.A. in Marketing and Finance from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University in 1981.
Following his graduation from Kellogg in 1981, Searer began his 29 year career at Kraft Foods with a position as Assistant Brand Manager on Maxwell House Coffee. Over the course of the next 15 years, his career advanced with a series of marketing and sales positions in the Maxwell House Division, the Kraft Cheese Division, and Oscar Mayer Foods. Then, in 1996, Searer was named President of Oscar Mayer Foods, a role he held for ten years, and he assumed the additional responsibility of President of the Kraft Pizza Company in 1998. In 2006, Searer was promoted to the role of President of Kraft North America. He was responsible for the $24B North American business unit consisting of 8 divisions, 47,000 employees, 6 headquarter locations, and 56 plants. He held this role until October of 2009 when he retired from Kraft Foods.
During his tenure at Kraft, Searer provided leadership service to food industry trade associations. He was a members of the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the American Meat Institute for ten years and served as the Chairman of AMI in 2002-2003. He received AMI's Industry Advancement Award in 2009. He also served on the Industry Affairs Committee of the Grocery Manufacturers Association for three years.
Searer has been active in leadership service in his community of Madison, Wisconsin. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the United Way of Dane County for ten years and served as its Chairman in 2003-2004. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Madison Chamber of Commerce for ten years and served as its Chairman in 2000-2002. He served on the University of Wisconsin Chancellor's Advisory Board in 2009-2011. He currently serves as a board member of the University of Wisconsin School of Business Dean's Advisory Board, the Waisman Center for the study of developmental disabilities and neurodegenerative diseases at the University of Wisconsin, and the Madison Region Advance Now Economic Development Initiative.
While Searer retired from Kraft Foods in late 2009, he has not retired from professional activity. He is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Business and has taught in both the M.B.A. and B.A. programs. He serves on the boards of directors of five corporations: Bush Brothers & Company, Johnsonville Sausage, Love's Travel Stops, Sterling Rice Group, and the West Bend Mutual Insurance Company.
Searer's career goal at this juncture in his life is quite simple: to make a difference for the organizations and people with whom he is associated by providing strategic insight and guidance drawing upon the experiences of his extensive career.
Searer is the son of Ann and Rich Searer of Tyrone, Pennsylvania. He and his wife Cathi live in Madison, Wisconsin. They have three adult children. They love to travel, play golf, prepare and enjoy great meals with friends, and walk their two dogs.