Dave Stangis: VP of 'Measurability'

Magazine: 

There's a new C-Suite role, but not a lot of history on how it is done.

Dave Stangis, Campbell's Vice President of Public Affairs and Corporate Responsibility, admitted that he has been figuring out as he goes along. His first job as a CSO was at Intel: a make-it-up-as-you-went-along task, which gave him guidelines for his job at Campbell's.

"When I started my career, there wasn't such a thing as a VP of Social Responsibility or Sustainability. I have always tried to drive business change," he added, driving new programs based on measurable data. "You don't need 1,000 metrics.  You may only need 10.. We start with what we wish we could measure, and how sustainability can drive the intelligence of what you measure."

At Campbell's, the challenge was a global company with over 18,000 employees. When he started, he found that he needed to bring very diverse divisions, especially human resources, into the metric world. At that time, although the existing operational data was often lacking, it showed some hot spots. Based on what existed, his first task was to settle on a series of measurable metrics, and then to work throughout the company to collect data, help managers see opportunities for savings and efficiencies, and then to implement reduction goals. As he said, "We learned a lot. After all, we go from growers all the way through to consumers."

As an example, Mr. Stangis talked about packaging: every ton taken out of the waste stream is dollars saved. But the starting point is a measurable baseline, and the second step is employee engagement. Once the output is known, then ongoing reduction becomes self-perpetuating by people on the ground, who are the ones to see opportunities for improvements. He added that a critically important factor was the support of the executive team. The VP of Investor Relations loved the new approach, but the CFO, who was relatively new when Mr. Stangis started, needed to see real results. Then he became a fan. "By the time you get to be CEO, what we see as opportunities, they see as risk. In order to convince the current management team, you have to have -- and be able to support -- a business case."

He concluded by saying,"Food. We are in the business of nourishing our planet. I enjoy food more than tech."

For more on Campbell's Soup practices, see: "Campbell's Soup: Planning a Nourishing Future" in the 2012 Finance magazine.