Sean Connolly, former president and CEO of Hillshire Brands, has been named the new CEO of ConAgra Foods, effective April 6. Connolly will replace current CEO Gary M. Rodkin, who is retiring.
Connolly, 49, was president and CEO of Hillshire Brands from the time of its formation as an independent company in 2012 to its sale to Tyson Foods in August 2014. Prior to his Hillshire Brands leadership, Connolly was chief executive officer for Sara Lee North American Retail and Foodservice, as well as president, Campbell Soup North America.
“We are thrilled to have Sean join ConAgra Foods as our new CEO,” said Steve Goldstone, chairman of the ConAgra Foods board of directors. “His track record of building brands, energizing teams, and creating value makes him an ideal fit. We are confident he will infuse focus and enthusiasm at ConAgra Foods.”
Rodkin announced in August 2014 his impending retirement, which will take place at the end of ConAgra Foods’ fiscal year, May 31, 2015. From April 6 to his retirement, Rodkin will serve as an advisor to the company.
“The entire board thanks Gary for his leadership of ConAgra Foods of almost 10 years,” Goldstone continued. “Our company was a very different place in 2005 when Gary arrived, and we sincerely appreciate his vision and tenacity in making huge strides in the company’s portfolio and performance. We expect a smooth transition from Gary to Sean over the next several months.”
Connolly is an experienced leader in the food industry. Prior to his roles at Hillshire, Sara Lee and Campbell’s, Connolly managed numerous brands in the food and beverage division at Procter & Gamble. He has used his general management, marketing, and innovation skills to improve business performance across a diverse range of food and beverage categories and channels of trade, with a focus on innovation and disciplined execution. Connolly earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from Vanderbilt University, and his Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin.