Campbell’s Finds the Soup for their Soul


Aug 2 2021 • 28 mins

The can is Americana itself; the product indistinguishable from the ordinary contents. It's part of a quintessential American meal, soothing the hunger and warming the souls of families for more than a hundred years. But in 2001, a toxic atmosphere hung over the workers at The Campbell Soup Company. Its headquarters stood isolated behind barbed fences in the run-down city of Camden, New Jersey. Inside, a culture of anxiety and distrust prevailed. Employees, uneasy about going outside the gates, ate lunch in the building – and got no discounts on soup. The dwindling morale, along with impending financial crisis, pushed the company to the brink: it had the lowest employee engagement of any Fortune 500 company. To save this American culinary and cultural icon from collapse, a new CEO enters the scene and embarks on an ambitious mission. He wants to replace and rejuvenate the leadership team, boost morale, and turn the company's fortunes around – in just three years. His strategies are both tough and tender: he lets hundreds of unfit senior managers go, and sends tens of thousands of handwritten letters to employees to recognize and praise their work.

In the penultimate episode of Teamistry's third season, host Gabriela Cowperthwaite takes us behind the scenes to witness Campbell's rebirth. We hear from the former CEO who led this mission, Douglas Conant, who explains how he translated "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs" into a step-by-step framework to rebound employee morale and confidence. We also hear from two of Doug's handpicked recruits who represented a new era of leadership at the company: Nancy Reardon, former Senior Vice President and Chief of HR and David White, former Senior Vice President of Global Supply Chain.

Teamistry is an original podcast from Atlassian. For a transcript of the episode and other extras, check out