Camp Campbell Inspires Cornell Women Food Scientists

Campbell Soup Co. CEO Denise Morrison, third from right in front row, at a Camp Campbell event May 4 at Cornell. Photo by Jill Monti/Provided.

Denise Morrison, president and CEO of Campbell Soup Co., visited campus May 4 with a message for female food scientists: You too can be leaders in the food systems industry.

Morrison met with 14 Cornell undergraduate and graduate female food science students as part of Camp Campbell, an event to mentor and inspire the next generation of female food industry leaders. Camp Campbell events are “Jeffersonian” in style, a nod to Thomas Jefferson, who was known to host intimate dinners with a diverse group of engaged, passionate citizens to discuss a particular challenge. After dinner, guests would return to their communities to implement solutions to create change.

For the Cornell luncheon, the goal was to encourage emerging leaders of the food industry to create a personal mission statement as a way to guide career and life decisions. Morrison led the event.

“Students today are under such pressure to know exactly what they want to do after they complete their formal education,” said Morrison, who since 2011 has led a company that generates $8 billion in annual sales. “It’s so important for women to work together to support one another as they create a plan for their future.”

Ghadeer Makki, an M.P.S candidate in food science and technology, said she found Morrison’s message inspiring. “Denise is a role model as a strong, determined, and inspiring female CEO, especially since there are few female CEOs in the real world,” she said. “After listening to her advice, I will do my best to focus on the big picture – career level, not job hunting – and put more effort into networking. As she said, ‘Networking is working.’”

Liz Buerman, doctoral student in the field of food science, said, “Camp Campbell encouraged us, as women involved in the food industry, to think about our personal mission statement. We were challenged to focus on ourselves, not as employees, but who we are in our integrated lives. The Campbell’s team shared their career experience and spoke about concentrating on where we want to be in the future – to not just think about the next job title. I think that these insights will be incredibly helpful as I strategize long term.”

Campbell Soup Co. recently joined the Cornell Institute for Food Systems Industry Partnership Program, formalizing the company’s relationship with Cornell as it seeks to mentor emerging food systems leaders.

Jill Monti is technical lead at the Cornell Institute for Food Systems Industry Partnership Program.