At the end of September, Campbell Soup Co., Camden, N.J., announced Douglas Conant, president/CEO since January 2001, plans to step down on July 31, 2011, the end of the company's fiscal year. The board of directors subsequently promoted Denise Morrison, currently president of North American soup, sauces & beverages, as a first step toward her succeeding Conant as CEO.
Morrison, 56, was to be named executive vice president and COO effective Oct. 1, “in anticipation of her election to succeed Conant as CEO at the beginning of fiscal 2012,” a company statement said. Morrison also was elected a director. The board also juggled the management team that will report to her.
The news release said Conant, 59, “advised the board of [his] plans,” but he gave no explanation in the official company statement. After an interview with Conant, the Wall Street Journal said he had begun the succession process, and the paper quoted him as saying “Ten years is long enough.” The Journal also noted Conant suffered severe injuries in a July 2009 car accident, but returned to work by September of that year.
Chairman Paul Charron said Conant “conceived and implemented a strategic vision that transformed Campbell into the focused, highly competitive business it is today. He has built a superb executive team. The legacy of his wide-ranging contributions and sterling personal values will long endure at Campbell."
In her temporary role, Morrison, 56, will be responsible for leading all of the company's global businesses, meaning North America Soup, Sauces and Beverages division, International division and Pepperidge Farm will report directly to her. She also will oversee corporate strategy, research and development and global marketing services. Other corporate functions will continue to report to Conant.
"Denise is an outstanding leader with a commanding knowledge of Campbell's business and an impressive record of achievement,” said Charron. “The board is confident that in her expanded leadership role, she will drive strong business performance and enhance the company's strategies for accelerating growth across our powerful brand portfolio.”
Morrison has 35 years of experience in the consumer packaged goods industry. She joined Campbell in April 2003 as chief customer officer and was appointed president of Campbell USA in 2005. She has been the president of North America soup, sauces and beverages since October 2007. From 1995 to 2003 she was employed by Kraft and Nabisco, at the end as executive vice president and general manager of Kraft Foods' snacks and confections divisions. Earlier in her career, she worked at Nestle USA, Procter & Gamble and PepsiCo.
Following are changes in the management team that will report to Morrison:
+ Sean Connolly, 45, president of Campbell USA since November 2008, will succeed Morrison as president of the North America soup, sauces and beverages div.
+ Mark Alexander, 46, currently senior vice president and chief customer officer, will become president of Campbell International.
+ Pat Callaghan, 59, will continue to serve as president of Pepperidge Farm.
+ Irene Chang Britt, 47, currently president of North America foodservice, will assume the role of senior vice president and chief strategy officer.
+ George Dowdie, 55, senior vice president of global R&D and quality, will remain in his current role.