When asked the standard “How are you?” Denise Morrison ’75 offers an equally “canned” answer and means it. “M’m! M’m! Good!” she says with a chuckle. Of course, this is the longtime slogan of the Campbell Soup Company, where she’s served as senior vice president, as well as president of North America Soup, Sauces, and Beverages, since October 2007. It also keenly describes Morrison’s career.
After graduating with degrees in economics and psychology, Morrison steadily climbed the ranks to hold executive-level positions at Nabisco Inc. and Kraft Foods. Along the way, she’s been named “Executive of the Year” by Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery magazine.
Morrison first got her Campbell career stirring in April 2003, when she became president of Global Sales and the company’s chief customer officer. In her current position, she’s expanded Campbell’s healthy offerings by introducing a new line of Campbell’s Select Harvest soups with reduced sodium, as well as bringing Wolfgang Puck’s soup business into the fold.
From her office in Camden, New Jersey, Morrison offers a flavor of her career and life experiences:
What is the most satisfying moment in your professional life?
In February 2007, my three sisters, who are all successful businesspeople, and I were featured in a Wall Street Journal article about raising women to be successful leaders. We also appeared on the Today show. Afterward, we received an overwhelming outpouring of support from those who found our story to be inspirational. It meant a lot to me.
In your personal life?
Becoming a mother to my two daughters.
What is your best BC memory?
Being inducted into the Order of the Cross and Crown honor society.
What is something your friends don’t know about you?
I used to be a majorette in the BC Marching Band.
What was the last book you read?
I recently reread Jim Collins' Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...and Others Don't.
How have you changed since graduation?
I’m more self-aware now. I have a greater sense of my personal values and I’m trying to live them every day.
What is the most important lesson in life?
Get and stay engaged with what you do.
What is the one thing everyone should do?
Give back, whether it’s to your community, your family, or your friends.
Who has influenced your life the most?
My parents and Doug Conant, the president and CEO of Campbell Soup Company.
Where is your favorite spot on the BC campus?
I love the view of Gasson Hall when you approach it from Linden Lane.
Where do you most like to travel on vacation?
Harwich, Massachusetts, and Marco Island, Florida.
Who would play you in the film version of your life?
That’s a tough one. I’d like to say Angelina Jolie, but I think Annette Bening or Catherine Zeta-Jones would be good choices.
Where did you live freshman year?
CLX. I was among the first women in the College of Arts & Sciences to live in a coed dorm. Convincing my parents to let me live there was probably my first successful sales pitch.
How much can you sing of the BC fight song?
All of it.
What is your next goal?
To become CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
What is the one meal you could eat for the rest of your life?
Well, certainly a Campbell’s Soup product; I love our condensed chicken noodle soup.
What is the latest song on your iPod?
“When You Say Nothing at All” by Alison Krauss.
How do you relax?
I go to the beach.
What would you tell your children if they wanted to attend Notre Dame?
It’s a good second choice to Boston College.
What do you look forward to each day?
The adventure and accomplishment possible in each new day.