Perfecting the HR Recipe at Campbell

By Tamara Lytle Sep 1, 2012

September CoverRobert Morrissey is changing the tune at Campbell Soup Co., where he was promoted to senior vice president and chief human resources officer on April 1.

The new tune at his first meeting with 100 top HR executives worldwide was fellow New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road." Dissecting the song's themes—about facing challenges and pursuing aspirations—was one of the exercises at his first summit with them. He has met with 300 Campbell executives in an effort to align the company's strategy with its culture, an area that is important to him.

Morrissey has a finance background, but, when it came down to a career choice between finance or HR, he chose HR.

"I thought I could have a lot more impact and influence in HR. I love the culture end of it and the people end of it," he says. His finance background lends HR credibility and helps him focus on metrics that affect business outcomes.

Morrissey oversees talent acquisition and management, organizational effectiveness, compensation, benefits, and diversity and inclusion for 18,000 employees globally. He reports to President and Chief Executive Officer Denise Morrison.

HR Magazine talked to Morrissey recently about his plans to shape HR at Campbell.

Former Chief Human Resources Officer Nancy Reardon retired from Campbell earlier this year. What is the greatest lesson you learned from her?

The importance of building and maintaining strong relationships across various stakeholders, including senior leaders and our board.

Describe your first 100 days.

Putting my senior HR leadership team in place was first. We combined our Global Talent Management and Global Talent Acquisition groups into a single, integrated team caring for the entire employee life cycle from candidate identification and onboarding to assessment and development. Creating a shared vision and culture for the global HR function is another priority for me. We are talking a lot about aspiration, optimism, taking risks and holding each other accountable.

Measuring the characteristics of high performance along with engagement is a top priority.

Any new HR initiatives on the horizon?

Measuring the characteristics of high performance along with engagement is a top priority. We are in the process of implementing high-performing work systems in our manufacturing plants. The systems are really changing how we think about organizing our work and empowering our people.

Describe some of Campbell's key employee development programs.

We focus on manager and leadership development. That will be key to higher levels of engagement and to unlock performance. Our newest offering—The Campbell Way for Managing program—is a mix of classroom and virtual learning experience for new managers. Robust succession planning helps ensure that we have a deep pipeline of talent. Managers are transparent with employees regarding their strengths, development gaps and how the organization views their potential.

What resources does Campbell University offer employees?

Campbell University offers classroom-based courses, webinars, podcasts and self-paced e-learning options. Offerings include courses on increasing personal effectiveness, public speaking and change management, as well as courses targeted to our managers around areas such as coaching, feedback and performance management.

Robert Morrissey

Current position: Senior vice president and chief human resources officer, Campbell Soup Co., Camden, N.J.

Education: 1980, B.S. in business administration from Montclair State University, Montclair, N.J., 1994, MBA from Columbia University, New York, N.Y.

Career: 2006-12, vice president, HR, North America; 2004-06, vice president, HR, Campbell USA; 2003-04, vice president, global HR; 2003, vice president, global sales, Campbell Soup Co., Camden, N.J. 2001-02, senior director, HR, Pharmaceutical Research Institute, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Lawrenceville, N.J. 2001, senior director, HR, technical operations, Bristol-Myers Squibb, New Brunswick, N.J. 1999-2001, director, HR‑Europe, ConvaTec division, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Uxbridge, U.K. 1997-99, director, HR–North America and Headquarters, ConvaTec divison, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Skillman, N.J. 1987-97, held several HR positions as well as roles in finance and treasury, Unilever Home and Personal Care, New York, N.Y. 1984-87, senior accountant and business analyst roles, Exxon Corp., Florham Park, N.J.

Personal: Born in Rahway, N.J.; age 54; married; two sons.

Diversions: Fitness and sports, music (especially Bruce Springsteen), grilling, and the beach.

Favorite soup: Chicken gumbo.


As a food company, how does Campbell support a healthy workforce?

We try to make it easy for people by having on-site health fairs where employees can get biometric screenings and receive on-the-spot health coaching. We also run on-site programs such as our 10K-A-Day walking program as well as contests to encourage participation in our health assessment.

What are the most popular work/life flexibility programs and benefits?

Our offerings include:

Summer hours—employees work extra time Monday through Thursday and head out early on Fridays.

Flexible work arrangements, including job sharing and telecommuting.

An on-site Family Center at the world headquarters that provides day care, full-day kindergarten and a Summer Fun program.

Also, employees at world headquarters enjoy a discount at the company store on all of their favorite Campbell brands, including Pepperidge Farm, Campbell's Soup, V8, Pace and Prego.

How does Campbell integrate corporate social responsibility and sustainability into performance measures?

Campbell's commitment to what we call "The Way We Work" is "building and sustaining a safe, diverse, inclusive, engaged and socially responsible workplace focused on delivering business results with integrity

The interviewer is a freelance writer based in the Washington, D.C., area.


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