10 Things You Didn’t Know About ConAgra Foods CEO Sean Connolly

Sean Connolly is the CEO of ConAgra Foods. He has been leading the largest packaged food distributor since April of 2015, but what does it take to succeed at such a massive responsibility? We were interested in learning more about Mr. Connolly’s background and we learned a lot about him that we were not aware of. Here are 10 things that you probably didn’t know about Con Agra’s CEO.

1. He has an impressive education

Sean Connolly attended the prestigious Vanderbilt University. He enrolled in the economics program and graduated with his bachelor’s degree in the discipline. He continued on with his education and attended the University of Texas at Austin. He graduated with his Master of Business Administration. The education that he received would help to prepare him for the fabulous career that lie ahead.

2. He started out Procter & Gamble

Sean Connolly joined the Procter & Gamble company where he served in several management positions and worked his way into leadership. He was involved with the Food and Beverage division of the company. In all Mr. Connolly served ten years with the company where he gained a vast amount of knowledge about the food and beverage industry.

3. He worked for the Campbell soup company

In 2002, Connolly accepted his first position with the Campbell company. He was privileged to work in a variety of different positions within the company. He was also moved around throughout several divisions during his time with Campbell. He started as the Vice President of the Marketing department within the division of sauces and prepared foods. He also served as Vice President and manager of the company’s North American Foodservice business, then he was promoted to the Vice President and General Manager of U.S. Soup where he achieved tremendous success in making high sales and a decent profit , and was also made President of Campbell USA.

4. He was an executive at Hillshire Brands

Before joining ConAgra, Connolly worked for Hillshire Brands. He joined them in 2012 where he was named President as well as the Chief Executive Officer of the company. He was with the company for two years. He ended up leaving in 2014. He was with Hillshire Brands from the time that it became an independent company in 2012, until it was sold to Tyson Foods in 2014, at which time he left.

5. Mr. Connolly was also with Sara Lee

Prior to joining the Hillshire Brand Company, Sean was the Chief Executive Officer for the Sara Lee company. He was in charge of their North American Retail and Food service. He had significant executive leadership experience before joining ConAgra.

6. Connolly makes millions each year

Sean Connolly’s base pay at ConAgra is $1,142,308 per year. He also receives bonus pay of $2,250,000 for a total of $3,392,000 in cash compensation. On top of this his stock award value last year was $6,676,835 and with all of his other compensation, he brought in a total of $10,474,271 according to Salary.

7. His expertise is sought out by other organizations

Mr. Connolly has a proven track record in executive leadership and his expertise in making sound business decisions is something that makes him an excellent choice for serving on community boards who depend upon this type of advisement. He serves on the board of directors for The Economic Club of Chicago as well as on the Northwestern Memorial HealthCare’s board.

8. He’s a move and a shaker

Connolly made some tough choices at ConAgra. When he took the reigns of the company, Mr. Connolly acknowledged that the Food and beverage industry is quite competitive and it takes something who is bold enough to make the tough decisions in order to put the best interests of the company to the fore. He saw that there were changes which needed to be made and it led to him initiating the cutting of approximately 1,500 jobs, then moving the headquarters of the company to the Merchandise Mart in Chicago from its previous home in Omaha.

9. He has a track record for brand building

While at Hillshire Brands in a high leadership position, Connolly had made similar decisions to sharply cut costs and focus on the development of products that would benefit the company. He was bold in his decision making and he wasn’t afraid to move into uncharted territory, and he worked similar miracles at Sara Lee, prior to them splitting off into an international coffee and tea business. He’s an innovator who does a great job of making improvements and building brands even though it’s sometimes painful during the growth period.

10. He’s a family man with a big philanthropic heart

When Sean Connolly negotiated with ConAgra Foods, he settled on a contract that would also provide him with an additional $65,000 for moving expenses. He’s a talented professional in executive leadership with an extensive knowledge of all aspects of the food and beverage industry and he does his job well for whomever his is employed, but he also has another important aspect to his life. He has a family. His wife, Diana and he have four children together. Mr. Connolly shared that his and ConAgra’s philosophy on philanthropy is that there is a lot of hunger out there in the world and they’re doing their part through foundation work to help feed people who are hungry and he teaches his children the importance of embracing these principles. Sure, he’s had to cut jobs as a leader, but in his personal life he believes in giving where the help is needed and he’s raising his kids to do the same thing.


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