CEO Sisters

Whilst scanning through The Economist: “The World in 2012” it took me till page 66 to find anything remotely related to or mentioning women in business until I found this –  “Women Will Get A Lift to the Top” – interesting reading and makes me wonder how different the content of the Economist will be in its edition “The World in 2020”.
Despite there being very few women in the Board Room, one lady who is certainly at the top of her game right now, is Denise Morrison, CEO of  Campbells.
The following comment made about her in The Economist article Bosses to Watch in 2012:
“the new boss of Campbell’s, Denise Morrison, will not persuade Chinese and Indian consumers to abandon home-made soup for canned stuff”
…made me want to know more about a woman who had made it to the top of a huge global brand.

First Women CEO of Campbell's - Denise Morrison

Denise Morrison Campbells CEO

In 2011 Denise Morrison Campbells became the first woman CEO of Campbells Soup and as well as this amazing achievement Denise has been recognised with many prestigious awards, including:

  • “Woman of Distinction” American Heart Association of New Jersey, 2010.
  • One of the 50 Most Influential Irish Women, Irish Voice 2010.
  • “Top Woman in Grocery,” Progressive Grocer magazine, 2008, 2009, and 2010.
  • One of the Top 50 Women to Watch, Wall Street Journal, 2007.
  • Garden State “Woman of the Year” for Corporations, Garden State Women magazine, 2007.
  • “Executive of the Year,” Snack Food & Bakery magazine, 2003.

Denise studied at Boston College for a degree in economics and psychology, graduating with magna cum laude, a rarely used distinction. She went on to start her career in the sales department at Procter & Gamble and then later joined Pepsi-Cola in Trade and Business Development. She then spent most of the 1980s at Nestle USA, where she held senior marketing and sales positions. In 1995, Denise moved to Nabisco Inc. She served as Senior Vice President and led the Nabisco Food Company’s sales organisation and was General Manager for the Down the Street division. She then went on to become Executive Vice President and General Manager of Kraft Foods’ Snacks and Confections divisions.
Denise joined Campbell in April 2003 as President-Global Sales and Chief Customer Officer in 2007 she was named Senior Vice President and President-North America Soup, Sauces and Beverages. Then in 2010 she was appointed Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer leading all of Campbell’s global businesses, corporate strategy, global advertising & design and research & development – impressive stuff!
I believe Denise has achieved her position of CEO at Campbells impart through dedication to one market sector, the grocery market. Denise has always worked inside this market sector, seeing her skills, knowledge and experience recognised through regular promotion within each organisation in which she has worked. Such dedication to one market has given Denise invaluable experience and helped propelled her to the top of her market sector.

The CEO Sisters

Researching Denise Morrison I found out very quickly, that not only is she one of the only women at the top in America but her sister, Mary Agnes Wilderotter,  is also CEO for Frontier Communications (#558) – now this was getting interesting.

Denise Morrison and Mary Wilderotter

Women at the Top in the USA

Women currently hold 3.4 % of Fortune 500 CEO roles and 3.6 % of Fortune 1000 roles – list published by Catalyst, this includes the CEO Sisters Denise Morrison and Mary Wilderotter:
Fortune 1500 (17 CEOs)

  • Meg Whitman, HP (#11)
  • Virginia Rometty, IBM (#18)
  • Patricia A. Woertz, Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) (#39)
  • Angela F. Braly, WellPoint, Inc. (#42)
  • Indra K. Nooyi, PepsiCo, Inc. (#43)
  • Irene B. Rosenfeld, Kraft Foods Inc. (#49)
  • Ellen J. Kullman, DuPont (#84)
  • Carol M. Meyrowitz, The TJX Companies, Inc. (#119)
  • Ursula M. Burns, Xerox Corporation (#121)
  • Laura Sen, BJ’s Wholesale Club (#221)
  • Sheri S. McCoy, Avon Products Inc. (#226)
  • Deanna M. Mulligan, Guardian (#245)
  • Debra L. Reed, Sempra Energy (#274)
  • Denise M. Morrison, Campbell Soup (#312)
  • Gracia C. Martore, Gannett (#415)
  • Beth E. Mooney, KeyCorp (#417)
  • Heather Bresch, Mylan (#418)
  • Fortune 501-1000 (19 CE

Fortune 501-1000 (19 CEOs)

  • Ilene Gordon, Corn Products International (#502)
  • Mary Agnes (Maggie) Wilderotter, Frontier Communications (#558)
  • Karen W. Katz, The Neiman Marcus Group Inc. (#567)
  • Laura J. Alber, Williams-Sonoma (#594)
  • Kimberly Harris, Puget Sound Energy (#644)
  • Mindy F. Grossman, HSN (#670)
  • Amy Miles, Regal Entertainment (#691)
  • Constance H. Lau, Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. (#717)
  • Diane M. Sullivan, Brown Shoe Company (#747)
  • Tamara L. Lundgren, Schnitzer Steel Industries (#793)
  • Cindy B. Taylor, Oil States International Inc. (#797)
  • Linda A. Lang, Jack in the Box Inc. (#799)Helen McCluskey, Warnaco Inc. (#800)
  • Patti S. Hart, International Game Technology (#878)
  • Kay Krill, ANN Inc. (#883)
  • Sara Mathew, Dun & Bradstreet Inc. (#980)
  • Jane Elfers, The Children’s Place Retail Stores (#982)
  • Patricia Vincent-Collawn, PNM Resources (#983)
  • Judy R. McReynolds, Arkansas Best Corp. (#989)

In comparison, as of the 29th June 2011, there are 14 female CEO’s running FTSE 350 companies, of which 4 are FTSE 100 and 10 FTSE 250:

  • Angela Jean Ahrendts-Couch, Burberry Group PLC
  • Cynthia Blum Carroll, Anglo American PLC
  • Alison J Cooper Imperial, Tobacco Group PLC
  • Dame Marjorie Morris Scardino, Pearson PLC
  • Lynn Rosanne Fordham, SVG Capital PLC
  • Katherine Lucy Garrett-Cox, Alliance Trust PLC
  • Doctor Harriet Green, Premier Farnell PLC
  • The Hon. Diana (Dido) Mary Harding, Talktalk Telecom Group PLC
  • Doctor Louise Makin, BTG PLC
  • Carolyn Julia McCall, EasyJet PLC
  • Ruby McGregor-Smith, Mitie Group PLC
  • Heidi Mottram, Northumbrian Water Group PLC
  • Kathryn (Kate) Elizabeth Swann, WH Smith PLC
  • Dorothy Carrington Thompson, Drax Group PLC

Making it to the top against the odds

Against the odds these CEO Sisters have made it to the top in both the companies they work for – brains and ambition must run in the family.
In an interview together they talked about what lessons their parents taught them:

I would love to have been a fly on the wall as they were growing up, as from what I read their parents did a fantastic job in giving them the foundation they needed to become the CEO’s they are today.
The CEO Sisters are often interviewed together and asked about how their relationship has helped them in their career, they talk about the ability to get a different perspective on problems they may have, share contacts and network together.
Both women talk passionately about supporting women in the boardroom and the lessons they learnt from their parents which enabled them to be self confident and have the belief that anything was possible coupled with a focus that getting a good education would give them the freedom and flexibility to do anything they wanted.
One of the lessons they talked about was the “job jar” in which they could earn money from various chores. They could trade chores as long as the chores were done and even work together if they thought that was the best way to get the job done – the emphasis was that the family was a team working together. This struck a chord with me as I think it’s so important to learn the value of money early on. The way in which the CEO Sisters were taught was very clever, giving them more than just an understanding of the value of money, it also developed team working and negotiation skills from an early age, even if they weren’t aware at the time.
For two women from one family to be at the top of their chosen careers – is a rare thing, and the only example I can think of where I have seen this before is with the tennis playing Williams Sisters. I really believe that the lessons that the CEO Sisters learnt from a young age gave them the drive to learn and work hard. Their parents must be proud!
So what makes anyone stand out from the crowd and make it to the top like the CEO Sisters have – genetics, parenting, talent or luck? No one can take away from the CEO Sisters the hard work, dedication and sacrifices they must have made to get where they have today. I think coupled with a natural capability, their upbringing and the opportunities that life has then brought them has led them to where they are today.

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