The courage to change
Doug Conant ’76
It sounds almost too simple.
But Doug Conant, the former CEO and president of Campbell Soup Company, insists that “helping people” is behind his success as a corporate leader and turnaround expert.
When Conant took the helm at Campbell, he inherited a whole host of problems — low sales, dwindling share prices, unmotivated employees and a toxic company culture. The Nabisco and General Mills veteran developed initiatives to improve morale, creating a place where people wanted to work. As part of the same turnaround strategy, he implemented social responsibility programs.
“The more we helped, the better we did,” says Conant, whose efforts led to sales growth for Campbell for eight consecutive years. The company also earned national recognition for its sustainability efforts and accolades for its workplace culture.
Today, as founder and CEO of ConantLeadership, chairman of Avon Products and newly minted chairman of the Kellogg Executive Leadership Institute, Conant is focused on training the leaders of tomorrow. Insisting that “leaders aren’t born; they’re made,” Conant encourages executives to continually work on their leadership development, engage in self-reflection and determine a mission for their life’s work.
For Conant, that mission is clear: “I delight in building high-performance teams that rise to challenges, thrive in the face of adversity and defy the critics,” he says. “It’s about having the courage of one’s convictions.”
Find additional information about Doug Conant at conantleadership.com or follow him on Twitter @DougConant.