Schneider, 51, helped triple revenue and net income at Fresenius through acquisitions and built the European company into a global leader in dialysis products and services. He also focused on growth in North America, buying dialysis clinics and urgent care centers as well as swallowing a large generic drugmaker.
Nestle, with about 2,000 brands worldwide, could see a huge makeover under Schneider with acquisitions in the wellness space and more health-based products. Nestle owns a 23 percent stake in French cosmetics giant L'Oreal valued in excess of $20 billion. The sale of the stake could be used to fund acquisitions.
"Arguably, the quickest way for Schneider to 'accelerate' Nestle's journey would be to make a large acquisition in health care," Credit Suisse analyst Alan Erskine said in a recent note. He said such an approach could bring "meaningful execution risk" and just "offer limited synergies."
Nestle declined comment for this story.
In October, Nestle hired an executive from Botox-maker Allergan to head Nestle Skin Health, a division specializing in products for skin, hair and nail health. In 2014, Nestle bought the rights to several cosmetic drugs in a $1.4 billion transaction with Valeant Pharmaceuticals International.
Nestle's other health-related holdings include a minority stake in Accera, a Colorado company specializing in medical foods for neurological disorders like Alzheimer's disease. Nestle also sells food and beverage products for people with other special needs, including obesity, diabetes and gastrointestinal conditions.
Meantime, Nestle's 335,000 employees worldwide could see the new CEO tighten the screws on cost controls.
"In our view, Nestle's culture can be best described as introverted and lackadaisical, especially in its attitude towards cost control and profitability," RBC Capital analyst James Edwardes Jones said in a report last week. The analyst made the case that other companies perceived as a target of private equity firm 3G Capital have come to make such matters more pressing.
The firm is known for its interest in food companies and has done deals previously with Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway. To be clear, nobody is suggesting Nestle itself is a target; its market cap is in excess of $220 billion, or twice that of 3G's Kraft Heinz business.
Analysts are forecasting Nestle's organic top-line growth will be up 3.5 percent this year, a deceleration from the 4.2 percent in 2014. That would make it the slowest organic sales growth in more than a decade. Analysts view organic growth as a key metric of the company's performance since it excludes the effects of currency fluctuations and acquired or divested businesses.
There's an expectation by analysts that Schneider will take steps to address the company's under-performing confectionery business, which accounts for around 10 percent of total sales.
Nestle has been losing market share in chocolate, with its U.S. share falling to 8 percent last year from 9 percent, according to Euromonitor.
Volume growth in Nestle's Americas region has been suffering from increased competition and a slump in the entire U.S. confectionery category, including the mainstream chocolate market where it has been losing share.
At the same time, Nestle's is seeing headwinds in other markets around the globe. In October, management described China as "rather challenging," indicating that food and beverage categories it operates there "are basically flat in terms of growth."
"You see deflationary pressures in the West and you've seen a slowdown of the Chinese economy that are really important to them," said Euromonitor's van den Bos. She still expects China along with India and Africa to remain critical to Nestle's growth.
Nestle operates in about 190 countries, although the U.S. was its largest single market last year in terms of total sales, followed by China and France.
Analysts expect to hear more about Schneider's strategy when the company reports its full-year financial results in February.