Douglas R. Conant is an internationally renowned business leader, New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, keynote speaker, and social media influencer with over 40 years of leadership experience at world-class global companies. For the past 20 years of his leadership journey, he has honed his leadership craft at the most senior levels—first as President of the Nabisco Foods Company, then as CEO of Campbell Soup Company, and then as Chairman of Avon Products. In 2011, he founded ConantLeadership: a mission-driven community of leaders and learners who are championing leadership that works in the 21st century. >>Download Doug’s 1-page Bio.
Doug is a devoted leadership practitioner whose 40-year career has been defined by a commitment to studying, practicing, improving, and teaching the tenets of leadership that works. Before ascending to c-suite executive positions at the Nabisco Foods Company, Campbell Soup Company, and Avon Products, he began his career in marketing at General Mills and held leadership positions in marketing and strategy at Kraft.
Read Doug's chapter in Stephen Covey's Living the 7 Habits to learn more about the early days of his leadership journey.Read Story
Doug’s first big organizational challenge came at Nabisco Foods Company (then under private equity ownership) where, in his last five years as President, he assembled a top-notch leadership team and, while navigating a period of great turmoil, he led that team to five consecutive years of sales, market share, and double-digit earnings growth. It was there—in the exhilaration of delivering high-performance across the board—that he first connected with his purpose: to help build high-trust, high-performance teams that honor people, defy the critics, and thrive in the face of adversity. It was also at Nabisco Foods Company where he would crystallize the building blocks of the powerful 6-step BLUEPRINT process that would carry him to great success in the CEO office and beyond.
As President and CEO of the Campbell Soup Company (2001-2011), Doug again faced significant challenges in a beleaguered company with declining sales. Leveraging his many years of leadership practice and study, he made dramatic changes throughout the organization—transforming the global leadership team, reconfiguring the portfolio, cutting costs, revolutionizing the culture, and making integral strategic investments. These efforts resulted in cumulative shareholder returns in the top tier of the global food industry.
When Doug retired as CEO of Campbell Soup Company in 2011 and founded ConantLeadership—he still felt anchored to his purpose and was called to contribute his leadership expertise to another iconic organization that was in the midst of a period of unrest. Serving as Chairman of Avon Products from 2013 to 2016, he helped steer the company through the most challenging time in its history, ultimately overseeing the sale of its North American business to private equity, and the establishment of a new Avon Headquarters in London responsible for managing the business in the rest of the world.
In the late 1990's Campbell Soup Company was struggling to meet stakeholder expectations. Learn how Doug used the principles of Leadership That Works to transform the company.Read Story
Throughout his leadership career, Doug has chiefly fulfilled his purpose through his mission to achieve superior employee engagement; this focus on people has been a crucial contributor to the exemplary performance of the companies he has led. His motto has faithfully been, “To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace.” This people-first approach also informed the development of his uniquely effective leadership model that champions workplace trust and clarity of purpose among the key factors to delivering extraordinary results (this model has evolved to become the ConantLeadership Flywheel). Leveraging this model, he famously transformed employee engagement in the Nabisco Biscuit Company, as one employee engagement expert said, from “swamp water” to “Perrier” to “champagne” over a period of three years. Similarly, using this model, he led initiatives that improved employee engagement at Campbell Soup Company—from being among the worst in the Fortune 500 to being consistently among the best. At all the companies he has served, he has found that employee engagement proved to be the secret to advancing stakeholder value.
Doug has also made enlightened leadership practices a priority throughout his lifetime and is visibly committed to, “doing well by doing good.” Fittingly, the companies he has had the privilege to lead were widely celebrated as leaders in diversity, social responsibility and ethical leadership during his tenure. Because of his lifelong advocacy for principled practices and corporate responsibility, he remains actively involved with many non-profit organizations. Learn more about his and ConantLeadership’s dedication to non-profit service and public advocacy here.
Today, continuing his legacy as a champion of leadership that works, Doug, among his other commitments, also serves as Chairman of CECP , Board Member of The Partnership for Public Service, and Board Member of RHR International. Recently, he retired as Chairman of the Higher Ambition Leadership Alliance, Board Member of the National Organization on Disability, and Member of the Board of Directors at AmerisourceBergen. Previously, he was Chairman of The Conference Board, Chairman of The Grocery Manufacturers Association, and Chairman of Enactus.
Doug is the co-author with Amy Federman of the Wall Street Journal bestseller, The Blueprint: 6 Practical Steps to Lift Your Leadership to New Heights and is the co-author with Mette Norgaard of the New York Times bestseller Touchpoints: Creating Powerful Leadership Connections in the Smallest of Moments. He writes extensively about leadership that works on the ConantLeadership blog, contributes widely to a variety of respected publications in the business space, has been a featured leadership blogger at Harvard Business Review online, and also contributes prolifically to the leadership conversation on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
Doug is passionate about helping leaders of all walks deliver superior performance with high-impact leadership practices. To this end, he brings his unique expertise and deep perspective to his public speaking, delivering wide-ranging keynotes on effective leadership practices for the new millennium. Learn more here.
Doug has been named a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust for five consecutive years and is a Top Thought Leader in Trust Lifetime Achievement Award Winner. He has also been lauded as a Top 100 Leadership Speaker by Inc. Magazine; a Top 100 Most Influential Author in the World; a Top 30 Leadership Professional by Global Gurus; a Leader to Watch by the American Management Association (AMA); a Top 50 Leadership Innovator Changing How We Lead; and a Top 75 Human Business Champion.
Doug earned his BA from Northwestern University and his MBA from the J.L. Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.