F&M Stories

Campbell's CEO Mark Clouse Challenges F&M Students to Seek Leadership Experiences

Campbell Soup Company’s President and CEO Mark Clouse visited campus Oct. 18 to meet with F&M student leaders and community members and to give the keynote presentation at the 2023 Diplomat Leadership Scholars Dinner, hosted by the Steinman Foundation.

Since Clouse became Campbell’s CEO in 2019, he has implemented a growth strategy that has resulted in some of the strongest results in its 154-year history. The company has been named to Newsweek’s lists of Most Trustworthy and Responsible Companies, Bloomberg’s Gender-Equality Index and Barron’s 100 Most Sustainable Companies.

His more than two decades of global experience in the food industry includes leadership positions at Pinnacle Foods, Mondelēz International and Kraft Foods Inc. Clouse is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he was a student-athlete on the basketball team. He served in the United States Army as a pilot and completed his service as a captain. Clouse and his wife, Kathy, are the parents of two sons, Spenser and Logan (F&M Class of 2025).

Clouse's first visit of the day was a lunch with student-athletes, including captains for 13 Diplomat Athletic teams as well as coaches and athletic leadership. He shared how his own experiences as a competitive athlete in high school and in college shaped his lifelong perspective on teamwork, perseverance and values.

"The great differentiator for success in life is leadership."

— Mark Clouse

Clouse shared a story from early in his career where he made a commitment to his future self: At the time, he was with Kraft Foods working as a marketer on the Log Cabin syrup brand. He had joined Kraft shortly after completing his U.S. Army service, where his last assignment had been Airfield Commander at a base near the North Korean border. 

At what may have been a crossroads of purpose — leaving a role that prioritized defending democracy and national security to take a position where he coordinated photo shoots with pancakes — Clouse decided that wherever his career and life took him, he would be all in, 100%.

"I made a choice at that moment," Clouse said. "That choice was to go out, to be all in. 'I don't care what I'm doing in life, I am going to show up ready to play.'"

Clouse’s visit to campus included meetings with F&M student leaders, including the Student Activity Leadership Committee, Club Council and members of Diplomatic Congress, F&M’s Student Senate. Clouse also participated in tours of the College’s Office of Student and Post-Graduate Development (OSPGD) and Student Support Hub. The day concluded with attendance at the 2023 Diplomat Leadership Scholars Dinner, where Clouse met with first-year Diplomat Leadership Scholars as well as members of the Steinman Foundation and F&M leadership team.

The Diplomat Leadership Program was established in 2022 thanks in part to a generous gift from the Steinman Foundation. The historic Lancaster-based philanthropy funds initiatives to continually improve the quality of life in Lancaster County.

Select students are invited to become Diplomat Leadership Scholars upon admission to F&M. Throughout their four years at F&M, these students participate in co-curricular programming that helps them explore leadership, understand their roles and responsibilities in the community and discover how they can be powerful forces for change.

Diplomat Leadership Scholars explore how leadership is socially responsible, is inclusive and values-based and is a lifelong process rather than an attained or assigned position.

Robert Krasne, co-chair of the Steinman Foundation and chairman and CEO of Steinman Communications, addressed the gathered guests before introducing Franklin & Marshall President Barbara K. Altmann.

“Take advantage of the many and varied experiences you can gather, because it's those experiences that help you see what's really great — and they help you see what you want to take advantage of and pursue in the future. Use those experiences to build the path that is best for you,” Krasne said.

President Altmann spoke to the F&M Diplomat Leadership Scholars in attendance who represent the second cohort in the recently established program.

“There was something in your applications to F&M that our admission team saw and identified. Every one of you was picked because you have great potential and demonstrated capacity as a leader,” Altmann said. “There's a line in our alma mater: ‘We give the world our service.’ What all of you are doing is giving the world your service, in one way or another, by leading in an area that's important to you.”

"There's a line in our alma mater: ‘We give the world our service.’ What all of you are doing is giving the world your service, in one way or another, by leading in an area that's important to you."

- F&M President Barbara Altmann

Before taking questions from the evening’s guests, Clouse shared what he believes sets leaders apart — and why he felt leadership is an essential, yet rare, skill that the world could use in greater abundance.

“The great differentiator for success in life is leadership,” Clouse said. “There are so many smart and talented people out there in the world, and that's great. But to truly achieve the highest level, the fullest potential that you have, you need to embrace the concept that leadership is a skill that can differentiate and help you be successful. Leadership is a muscle. It is a skill set. It is a capability that, if focused on and if spent time developing and building, can be a powerful competency.”

Clouse discussed his own style of leadership and the core values he’s carried across his career. “Transparency, authenticity, honor and integrity, empathy — this is how trust is built,” Clouse said. “As leaders for the future, if you start from that position, the values that you've been developing and building will serve as your foundation.”

As he drew the connections that started with high-school athletics, transitioned through West Point and military service and continued into a successful career in international business, Clouse shared that his life path wasn’t one he anticipated — but it was one filled with varied, unexpected challenges that developed his skills as a team player and as a leader.

“I like to seek out experiences that challenge me,” he said. “I like to do things that make me a little uncomfortable and that put me in positions where I was learning — where I was trying something that I might not have been great at. The future leaders in this country, in businesses and institutions, are not going to be people who go to one job and just climb the ladder straight up. They're going to be people who accumulate experience. [Experiences] are tools in your tool bag. Be open to that. Put yourself in positions where you're a little uncomfortable but where you can learn and develop as you move forward.”

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