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Born to be CEO

Born to be CEO
Secrets of Campbell Soup CEO, Denise Morrison

Denise Morrison was born in Elberon, New Jersey, and is one of four sisters who have all enjoyed successful business careers. The “Sullivan Sisters” were featured in a 2007 Wall Street Journal article, “Raising Women to Be Leaders.”  Denise is the first-born; Maggie Wilderotter is chairman and CEO of Frontier Communications; Colleen Bastkowski was a regional vice president of sales at Expedia Corporate Travel; and Andrea Doelling, a champion horse jumper and was senior vice president of sales at AT&T Wireless.       

Their father, Dennis Sullivan, a Korean War veteran, and AT&T executive wanted to share everything he knew about business with his girls. He reportedly talked with them while they were still in grade school about setting profit-margin goals. Their mother, Connie Sullivan, taught them that ambition is a part of femininity.

“Our outings every Saturday were going to the library and picking out a book to read. While we were walking he would say, ‘It took somebody years to write this book and in one week you’re going to get all of this knowledge. How lucky are you.’ Then we had to give him a book report, either oral or written. We could choose.”

“We had job jars and they contained our chores for the week. So, he would talk about the importance of the family as a team and everybody on the team had to pull their weight. We had to get the chores done. We could barter the chores so we’d learn negotiation skills. They had to be finished; goal achievement. We were given an allowance pay for performance. I mean all of these lessons.”

Denise Morrison graduated from Long Branch High School. She earned her B.S. degree in economics and psychology from Boston College, graduating magna cum laude. She was inducted into the Order of the Cross and Crown Honor Society for academic and extracurricular achievement.

Morrison was named President and CEO of Campbell Soup Company on August 1, 2011. Campbell is a global manufacturer and marketer of consumer food products, focused on simple meals, soup, baked snacks, and beverages.

Previously, Denise was Executive Vice President and General Manager of Kraft Foods’ Snacks and Confections divisions. Her extensive food business experience also includes senior leadership roles at Nabisco, Nestle, and Pepsi-Cola. She began her career at Procter & Gamble.

Denise was elected to the MetLife, Inc. board in February 2014. She was appointed Co-Chair of the Consumer Goods Forum in 2015 and serves on the organization’s board.  Denise was named to President Barack Obama’s Export Council in 2012. She is a founding member of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, an initiative of manufacturers and retailers to combat obesity in the marketplace, workplace, and schools. Denise is also a member of the board of directors for the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Catalyst. She is regularly named among the Fortune and Forbes Most Powerful Women.

Morrison’s compensation at the beginning of the fiscal year 2012 included an annual base salary of $950,000, a fiscal 2011 annual cash incentive of $602,292 and a fiscal 2012 long-term incentive grant of $4,845,000

Denise Morrison and her sister Maggie Wilderotter are two of the only 24 women currently leading S&P 500 companies. They took different paths to the C-Suite and work in vastly different industries, but today the two gals from Jersey run companies generating a combined $13 billion in revenue and employing 37,000 people.

The lessons to be learned are several:

1. Anyone can move up to become a CEO of a company regardless of sex.

2. Starting as a child is a good time to get your children interested in self-development and learning.

3. You have a huge influence on the success of your children. Start early while they’re young.

4. Indispensable and extraordinary people Move Up. That can be YOU.

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