Sean Leighton, MBA


Sean Leighton lives with his family in Minnetonka, Minnesota, a chilly little town on a big lake that’s too far from any beach. For fun he enjoys spending time with his family, exercising and reading (anything and everything). Sean Leighton is global vice president of Food Safety, Quality & Regulatory at Cargill, one of the world’s largest food companies with 155,000 employees in more than 70 countries. After years of trying to figure out if he was a business mind trapped in a scientist’s body or vice-versa, Leighton is tapping into both in his Cargill role, responsible for advancing Cargill’s food safety, quality and regulatory strategy, and contributing to public policy that protects consumers around the world.

Prior to joining Cargill in 2017, Sean led quality, safety and environmental sustainability for The Coca-Cola Company in North America and for three years in Europe. He has a BS in Bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an MS in Food Science from the University of Minnesota and an MBA from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

Sean’s passion for the personal and professional development of his teams, driving change, and his growing commitment to gender equity in the workplace has been recognized by both Coca-Cola and Cargill, and has resulted in noticeable cultural transformations in both organizations.

IFT Highlights

Sean has been a member of IFT since 1999, where he was a participant in the IFT student association product development competition. Since then he has served in several volunteer opportunities as a presenter, a panelist, a podcast thought leader, and finally an advisory council member of the IFT Global Food Traceability Center. 


BS in Bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison

MS in Food Science and Nutrition from the University of Minnesota

MBA from Emory University