Right up until his untimely death at age 54 from pancreatic cancer, Ed Marra lived with an intense ‘passion to win.’ This statement – included as the signature line of all his emails – drove every decision he made, both personally and professionally.
After graduating with an MBA from Concordia after earning his B.Comm from Loyola, Marra began his lifelong affair with food at Robin Hood Multi-Foods, soon working on the Stouffer’s brand. After five years at Robin Hood, Marra jumped to Nestlé when it acquired the license to market the Stouffer’s brand from Robin Hood.
He held a series of positions in the Nestlé organization, including several senior management positions in the U.S. and the managing director title in Canada before ultimately being named Executive Vice-President at Nestlé S.A. head office in Switzerland.
A constant innovator, he famously launched the new Lean Cuisine frozen dinner in Canada by serving it to trade buyers right in the plastic tray on Royal York Hotel’s best china, and hired then-risky Tina Turner as after-dinner entertainment.
Marra’s contributions at Nestlé established a legacy that continues today. His passion for marketing excellence, commitment to effective trade relationships, thirst for customer insight and open leadership style are cornerstones of his legacy. To commemorate his contribution, Nestlé Canada has instituted the annual Ed Marra Marketing Excellence Awards.
As a 30-year veteran of the packaged-goods industry, Marra served on the executive committees of such organizations as the Food Industry Association, and the Food and Consumer Product Manufacturers of Canada, and as a member of the Grocery Industry Foundation.
Often recognized for his successes and contributions to the industry, he was named ‘MBA Alumni of the Year’ by Concordia University in 2003, and awarded the ‘CEO Award of Excellence in Communication Leadership’ from the International Association of Business Communicators that same year. A career highlight was being awarded the prestigious Gold Medal for 2005 by the Association of Canadian Advertisers, although he was too ill to attend the ceremony.
In the months before he died in November 2006, Marra worked with the University of California, San Francisco to raise awareness about pancreatic cancer and help secure future research funding.