Campbell CIO's Recipe For Growth

Wright's task: ensure that technology infrastructure supports business objectives.
As Campbell Soup Co.'s new senior VP and CIO, Doreen Wright's goal is to cook up new ways for the food company to grow.

Wright, 44, joined the Camden, N.J., company last month. She previously was executive VP and CIO at rival Nabisco Inc., before Kraft Foods Inc. acquired Nabisco in January. Wright says the role of CIO at Campbell has been elevated with her appointment. She's the first Campbell CIO to report directly to the CEO, rather than the CFO, but that may not be a coincidence: Campbell's president and CEO, Douglas Conant, also is a Nabisco alumnus. He joined Campbell in January and was formerly president of Nabisco Foods Co. As of Aug. 1, Campbell also will have a new chair-man of the board, George Sherman, former president and CEO of Danaher Corp.

Doreen Wright

Wright is the first CIO at Campbell to report directly to the CEO, rather than to the CFO.
Conant's mission at the $6.3 billion food company is to "jump-start top-line growth," Wright says. Earnings have faltered for more than a year, and in 2000, profits fell to $714 million from $766 million in 1999. During his tenure at Nabisco, Conant fueled double-digit growth and revitalized several core business groups.

As a member of Campbell's executive team, Wright will serve as chief adviser, looking for new ways that IT can fuel Campbell's growth and add value. Wright replaces Mike Crowley, VP of information services, who left Campbell to pursue other interests, according to a company spokeswoman.

Wright will ensure that Campbell's technology infrastructure supports and drives the company's business objectives, including E-business initiatives and deployment of a companywide customer-relationship-management system, she says. Campbell is moving away from its IBM AS/400-centric architecture and toward Windows 2000 for its decision-support tools.

Wright also is the first Campbell CIO to have the top IT managers of the highly decentralized business units and global operations reporting to her. Besides soup, the diverse brands Campbell sells include Pepperidge Farm baked goods and Godiva chocolates. Wright looks forward to having responsibility for Campbell's global operations in such places as Europe and Australia. One of her top priorities will be to integrate six soup divisions in Europe, including operations from Campbell's recent $900 million acquisition of Unilever's soup and sauces business, she says.

"The company is very hybrid; each unit has its unique set of needs," selling products through different channels, so one-size IT systems don't fit all, Wright says. "You can't pick one sales systems that will be right for all of them. I'll make sure that all we do at the business level brings value at the corporate level. I'll be helping to balance total enterprise objectives with individual business [unit] objectives," regardless of the distribution channels.

Wright will oversee an IT staff of about 400, excluding several dozen application-development contractors. The company outsources support for its network infrastructure and data centers to IBM.

At Nabisco, Wright helped the company move to Web-based, distributed architectures and languages companywide, as well as implementing new processes for selecting projects and establishing metrics for IT spending. "None of those existed at Nabisco in the past," she says.

Wright brings "a wonderful blend of technical competence, character, and common sense, all of which are fully leveraged by an extraordinary results orientation," CEO Conant says. And in a release about Wright's appointment, Conant says she'll "work closely with all business units and departments to strengthen our information technology efforts. Her team will be a key force in Campbell's efforts to win in the marketplace."

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