Ciserani was amazed to win the trophy, which was presented at the IGD Food Industry Awards in London on Tuesday. The industry rated him above nine other heavyweights, including Tesco's Sir Terry Leahy and Sainsbury's Justin King.
"Numerically it doesn't make sense. We are 600 people," he says, omitting to mention the $4bn sales of the UK operation, the stunning performance of his key brands this year, to say nothing of the smooth integration of Gillette into the UK business. Ciserani is now focusing on the first integrated product launch, the new Fusion razors. And sure enough, after seven weeks, Ciserani says results are ahead of target.
It's a far cry for Ciserani from the days when he drove trucks to pay his way through a business administration course at Milan. A start in P&G's Rome office on the Ariel Handwash brand swiftly led to a series of promotions, until his big move to Germany in 1998 to be managing director of Pampers Western Europe. Two years later he was vice president, Europe, for Babycare, based in Geneva, and in July 2004 he was appointed to his current role.
Now with 19 years of P&G experience behind him, the 44-year-old from Verona is well versed in the challenges facing the fmcg industry. His reputation as an amiable but fiercely driven professional precedes him.
Promotional pricing is a particular bugbear. At the Institute of Directors convention earlier this year, Ciserani said: "As we put more money into promotions, we have less money to put into innovation.
"This leads to a decline in brand values and, as brands decline, the categories become more commoditised. The long-term risk of sustained promotions is that consumers are forced to accept a trade-off: lower and lower prices at the expense of innovation and ultimately true value."
Nevertheless, Ciserani is confident that P&G is on track to meet his prediction, made in 2004, that it will double sales by 2010. The acquisition of Gillette has certainly helped. Being able to offer complete propositions [to retailers] is key to consistent growth, he believes. To achieve this, though, Ciserani thinks retailers and suppliers must collaborate to a far greater extent, something P&G has dubbed 'joint value creation'.
"I have made it my strategy to build an external team - with retailers, wholesalers and the media - that is as good as the internal team, in order to create value in the total industry. We want to make a contribution beyond growing our business. If we are only taking business from our competitors, there is no sense in that."
Transparency is key. "We are taking down the barriers, trying to find partners and build strong relationships." Retailers are the most important, says Ciserani. "They are indispensable." But so too, in his vision, is the media. "Ten years ago we saw the media as a risk, so we tried to say as little as possible. But the media has become a critical path for us on our journey to achieve these goals. It's our microphone to be able to take some of our work and make it public; and also to give us ideas and keep us in touch with the reality outside P&G." An appearance on Sky News last Sunday was unprecedented, he says, confirming that the previously secretive and suspicious approach is a thing of the past.
Two years ago, Ciserani was an unknown in the UK. In The Grocer's Power List in May, he was pipped to the number one spot by Premier Foods' Robert Schofield in the manufacturers' section.
But this resounding affirmation of Ciserani's success suggests most now believe Ciserani's influence is even greater. The man himself is more modest. After winning The Grocer Cup on Tuesday, he said: "Everyone stood up and came and shook hands. The fact that this industry gives this award to a foreigner says a lot. This wouldn't happen in France, for example. It is a sign that the UK is willing to embrace the best of what's available, it's an open and inclusive culture, and I feel like I always lived here, like I grew up here. I think you should be proud of that."