Former Campbell’s Soup CEO to give last Secchia Breakfast

GVL / Courtesy -
Douglas Conant and Mette Norgaard

GVL / Courtesy – Douglas Conant and Mette Norgaard

Katherine West

Doug Conant, the former president and CEO of Campbell’s Soup Co., is delivering a presentation at Grand Valley State University on Nov. 6 as part of the Seidman College of Business and Peter F. Secchia Breakfast Lectures series.

Vonnie Herrera, director of external relations and communication in the Seidman College of Business, said the event highlights innovative leaders.

“The breakfast lecture series were established in party by Peter F. Secchia,” Herrera said. “Secchia is a prominent businessman in West Michigan. With the series he likes to bring in business leaders who represent entrepreneurship, show expertise and demonstrate the lessons they have learned. Peter is passionate about having students attend the breakfast because it gives them out-of-classroom experience.”

This is the last Secchia Breakfast of the semester, and Herrera said they usually have a good turnout.

“We have done 21 breakfasts to date,” Herrera said. “Usually about 200 alumni, students, community members, business members, faculty and staff members attend the breakfasts.”

Conant is well established in the business world. He is a New York Times bestselling author with “TouchPoints: Creating Powerful Leadership Connections in the Smallest of Moments,” for which he was a co-author, Herrera said.

Conant received a bachelor’s of arts from Northwestern University and received a master’s degree in business administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

From 2001 to 2011, Conant served as CEO and president of the Campbell Soup Co. He is credited with improving the company as he transformed the global leadership team, reconfigured the portfolio, cut costs and made investments in Campbell’s products. These changes ultimately led to shareholder returns in the top tier of the global food industry. His leadership contributed to employee engagement, going from being one of the worst in the Fortune 500 to being among the best consistently.

Conant has been a chairman in the board of directors for Avon since 2012. He serves as chairman of the Kellogg Executive Leadership Institute at Northwestern University and is a board member for the National Organization on Disability and Enactus. Prior to working for Campbell’s Soup Co., Conant served as the president of Nabisco for two years.

Conant’s speech, titled “35 Years in the Rearview Mirror: Life Lessons from the Corporate Journey,” will take place Nov. 6 from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. in the L. William Seidman Center at the GVSU Pew Campus. Breakfast begins at 7:30 a.m., and the event is free to attend.

A brief question and answer session with Conant will conclude the speech. People who would like to listen to the speech but are unable to attend may watch the video on YouTube following the event. Attendees may RSVP on the Seidman College of Business website until Nov. 6 at 7:30 a.m.