So it was fitting that Morrison was feted by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce on Friday as the 21st winner of its Paradigm Award, the highest honor given by the organization to an area businesswoman.
In an engaging address to about 670 people in the grand ballroom of the Hyatt at the Bellevue, Morrison displayed an easy humor that is too often absent in corporate leaders.
All four sisters went far in the corporate world. Maggie Wilderotter was the first to land a top job, becoming CEO of Frontier Communications Corp. in 2004. Morrison succeeded Doug Conant as CEO of Campbell in August 2011, eight years after she joined the company.
The story of the Sullivan sisters and how they were practically programmed to become leaders was first told in a 2007 Wall Street Journal article. But that was before Denise Morrison had reached the top of the Camden-based food processor and broke the news to her parents.
As for her father's question about what's next, she had a ready answer: "To build a great company."
It will be difficult for Morrison to pull that off with a company that has soup in its name. Industrywide trends project soup sales will continue to slide over the next five years.
That alone might explain why Morrison felt the need to pay $1.55 billion in cash for Bolthouse Farms, a maker of juices and packaged fresh foods, last summer.
Still, under Morrison, Campbell Soup has expended a lot of energy over the last year introducing soups with new flavors and in different packages in a bid to get some of the 80 million Millennials to put down the fajita burrito and microwave a Campbell's Go Chicken and Quinoa soup instead.
It will take years before we find out if Morrison is able to take Campbell from good to great. But it will be fascinating to watch this self-described "granny CEO" - "now there's a paradigm shift," she said - as she tries to remake the culture of a 143-year-old global corporation.
Contact Mike Armstrong
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