Douglas R. Conant, New York Times bestselling author and keynote speaker founded Conant Leadership, a growing community of people dedicated to improving the quality of leadership in the 21st century, in 2011. He is also honored to serve as Chairman of Avon Products as well as Chairman of the Kellogg Executive Leadership Institute (KELI) at Northwestern University. The newly formed KELI initiative is designed to help leaders of today enhance their ability to lead in the “here and now.” This program combines the best insights of the Kellogg academic curriculum with the best practices of “world class” leaders across the landscape at the highest levels of the organization. An advocate for ethical practices and corporate responsibility, Conant is the current Chairman of CECP (formerly known as the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy). He is an active member of the boards of the National Organization on Disabilities (NOD), the Partnership for Public Service (PPS), Enactus, the Families and Work Institute (FWI), and the International Tennis Hall of Fame (ITHF). He is also a former chairman of both the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and The Conference Board (TCB), where he remains a Global Counselor, and he is a former board member of Catalyst. From 2001 to 2011, Conant served as CEO and President of the Campbell Soup Company. Conant was the 11th leader of this iconic company’s 141-year history – faced with reversing a precipitous decline in market value.
Conant succeeded by dramatically transforming the global leadership team, reconfiguring the portfolio, cutting costs and making strategic investments in Campbell’s products, marketing programs, innovation pipeline and infrastructure. As a result, the company was able to deliver cumulative shareholder returns in the top tier of the global food industry. The key enabler of this performance was Campbell’s march towards achieving world-class employee engagement levels. During the decade of Conant’s leadership, employee engagement went from being among the worst in the Fortune 500 to being consistently among the best. Campbell has been widely recognized for its progress; its many honors range from being recognized by the Gallup organization with its “Great Workplace Award” for four years running to receiving the 2010 Catalyst Award for helping women advance their careers.
During his tenure, the company was also recognized as a leader in social responsibility and ethical leadership. Conant joined Campbell with 25 years of experience from three of the world’s leading food companies: General Mills, Kraft and Nabisco. He began his career in 1976 in marketing at General Mills. After 10 years, he moved to Kraft where he held top management positions in marketing and strategy. Immediately prior to coming to Campbell, he was President of the $3.5 billion Nabisco Foods Company where he led his team to improved marketplace performance and five consecutive years of double-digit earnings growth.