Meet our leaders
Chief Executive Officer
Sean M. Connolly joined ConAgra Foods in April 2015 as chief executive officer. ConAgra Foods is one of North America's largest packaged food companies with consumer and private brands found in 99 percent of America's homes. ConAgra Foods is also the largest private brand packaged food business in North America and has a strong commercial business, providing food to well-known restaurants, foodservice operators and commercial customers.
Prior to joining ConAgra Foods, Sean was president and CEO of The Hillshire Brands Company 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 CEO for Sara Lee North American Retail and Foodservice, as well as president, Campbell Soup North America. He also managed numerous brands in the food and beverage division at Procter & Gamble. Sean 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. Sean earned his bachelor's degree in economics from Vanderbilt University, and his Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin.
Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary
Colleen Batcheler was named executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary for ConAgra Foods in 2009. In this role, Colleen oversees all legal activity for the company. Colleen joined ConAgra Foods in June 2006 as vice president and chief securities counsel and, in September 2006, added corporate secretary responsibilities. She was then promoted to senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary in 2008.
Prior to ConAgra Foods, Colleen was vice president and corporate secretary at Albertson's, Inc., associate counsel with The Cleveland Clinic Foundation and an associate with the law firm of Jones Day®. Her practice has focused on securities regulation, corporate governance issues, executive compensation matters, mergers and acquisitions, and other general corporate matters.
Colleen serves as a member of the board of trustees of Case Western Reserve University, and on the board of trustees of The Omaha Theater Company for Young People. She earned a B.A., magna cum laude, in political science from the State University of New York College at Fredonia, and her J.D. from Case Western Reserve University, where she graduated Order of the Coif and served as executive notes editor of the Law Review.
Al Bolles, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President, Chief Technical and Operations Officer
Al Bolles, Ph.D., is executive vice president, chief technical and operations officer, leading ConAgra Foods' Research, Quality & Innovation as well as ConAgra Foods' Supply Chain. In this role, Al leads the company's research, quality and innovation teams, guiding the development of new products based on consumer insights and technological best practices, and he also provides strong alignment across ConAgra Foods by leading the natural connectivity between Supply Chain and R&D. Al joined ConAgra Foods in 2006 as executive vice president, Research, Quality & Innovation.
Al focuses on delivering fewer, bigger and better new products that will add sales to the top line and build consumer loyalty to ConAgra Foods brands. He continues to concentrate on delivering big-bet innovation to the market with flawless execution. Throughout the years, Al and his team have brought new innovative products and ideas to the market that have changed the way people make and eat their food today. In 2007, he brought to market a highly successful product extension of the Healthy Choice® brand. Healthy Choice® Café Steamers™ entrées were named the No. 1 new food item, measured by sales across the grocery store in 2008 by Information Resources, Inc. (IRI). In 2011, he introduced the revolutionary new design of Orville Redenbacher's® Pop Up Bowl™, the first bag-to-bowl design for Orville Redenbacher's popcorn, which pops into a ready-to-serve, freestanding bowl. Orville Redenbacher's Pop Up Bowl innovation won several outstanding awards, including Product of the Year from Consumer Survey of Product Innovation in 2012, the Silver Edison Award in innovation from Edison Awards in 2012 and the Best New Consumer Products Editors' Pick Award from Progressive Grocer in 2011, just to name a few.
Al and his team are also dedicated to the safety and quality of the food we make, working to improve and ensure we have industry-leading food safety standards. Through this great work, our Research, Quality & Innovation team was voted R&D Team of the Year for large organizations by FoodProcessing.com in 2012, and received the Quality Achievement Award for Manufacturer of the Year by the Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI) in 2011.
Prior to joining ConAgra Foods, Al led worldwide research and development for PepsiCo Beverages and Foods. He has a Ph.D. and master's degree in food science and a bachelor's degree in microbiology, all from Michigan State University. He holds several patents and has won numerous awards for his contributions to the world of food science.
Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer
Joan Chow joined ConAgra Foods as executive vice president and chief marketing officer in 2007. Joan was named a Brandweek Marketer of the Year in 2009. In her role, Joan is responsible for leading ConAgra Foods' global marketing team, including integrated marketing planning, advertising, social media, shopper/customer marketing, consumer insights and multicultural marketing.
Joan takes an in-depth focus on marketing for ConAgra Foods brands across the portfolio. Her goals are to build stronger advertising creative, effective media plans, sustainable customer linkage and a strong return on marketing objectives.
Prior to joining ConAgra Foods, Joan was senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Sears, Roebuck & Co. Joan began her career in 1986 at Johnson & Johnson. She earned her M.B.A. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and her bachelor's degree in linguistics from Cornell University.
Derek De La Mater
Executive Vice President and President of Sales
Derek De La Mater was named Executive Vice President and President of Sales in 2014, after serving as president of Customer Development. In this role, he leads the retail sales teams, which include the sales of both branded and private branded food.
Derek and his sales teams are dedicated to understanding the needs and exceeding the expectations of our customers, as well as those of the consumers who purchase our brands. Derek joined ConAgra Foods in 1993 and has held a variety of customer-facing, sales operations and business development roles. He graduated from New York State University with a Bachelor of Science in business administration.
Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
John Gehring was named executive vice president and chief financial officer of ConAgra Foods in 2009. As CFO, John oversees the company's finances in entirety. John was senior vice president and controller at ConAgra Foods from 2004 to 2009, with responsibility for accounting, reporting, planning and analysis, financial systems management, and financial shared services operations. He also had financial oversight for the company's Commercial Foods business.
Prior to his controller role, John was senior vice president and interim senior financial officer for ConAgra Foods Retail Products and senior vice president, Internal Audit. Before joining ConAgra Foods, John was a partner with Ernst & Young, serving as the Ohio Valley area business risk services leader. He also held auditing positions with PepsiCo and KPMG Peat Marwick. John earned his bachelor's degree in business administration from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
President, Private Brands and Commercial Foods
Paul Maass was named president of the Commercial Foods segment for ConAgra Foods in 2010. With the acquisition of Ralcorp in 2013, he assumed responsibility for leading the Private Brands business and was appointed president, Private Brands and Commercial Foods, in 2013. ConAgra Foods is the largest private brand food business in North America, as its Private Brands business — which makes and sells private brands to retail customers — accounts for nearly 26 percent of ConAgra Foods' annual revenue. The Commercial Foods segment, which includes the Lamb Weston®, ConAgra Foods Bakeries, ConAgra Foodservice®, Spicetec Flavors & Seasonings® and J.M. Swank® businesses, makes and sells specialty food and ingredients to restaurants, foodservice operators and other food makers, globally. It accounts for nearly 27 percent of ConAgra Foods' annual revenue.
Paul joined ConAgra Foods in 1988 as a commodity merchandiser in the trading business. He assumed responsibility for the J.M. Swank food ingredient distribution business in 2007 and, in 2010, began providing leadership for Lamb Weston and Spicetec Flavors & Seasonings in his Commercial Foods president role.
Paul earned a bachelor's degree in Agricultural Business from Iowa State University. He has provided industry leadership through active participation in several industry trade associations, is active in the Omaha community serving on College World Series Inc. Board of Directors and serves as an independent Board of Director for Aurora Algae, Hayward, Calif. He previously served on the Grain Foods Foundation's Board of Directors and Nebraska's March of Dimes Board of Directors.
President, Consumer Foods
Tom McGough was named president of ConAgra Foods' Consumer Foods business in 2013. Consumer Foods makes and sells leading branded food to retail and foodservice channels. Consumers can find recognized brands such as Banquet®, Chef Boyardee®, Egg Beaters®, Healthy Choice®, Hebrew National®, Hunt's®, Marie Callender's®, Orville Redenbacher's®, PAM®, Peter Pan®, Reddi-wip®, Slim Jim®, Snack Pack® and many others.
As a 20-year veteran of the branded food business, Tom began his packaged foods career at H.J. Heinz in 1990. He joined ConAgra Foods in 2007 and was named president, Grocery Products, ConAgra Foods in 2011. Grocery Products is Consumer Foods' largest area of business, including many leading shelf-stable and refrigerated brands. He holds an M.B.A. from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business and a bachelor's degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer
Andrew Ross was named executive vice president and chief strategy officer for ConAgra Foods in 2011. In his role, Andrew leads the company's strategic planning process, with specific responsibility for developing strategies that align with the company's growth ambitions.
Andrew has 20-plus years of experience in developing growth strategies for businesses around the world. Prior to joining ConAgra Foods, he was a partner at McKinsey & Company, Inc., where he led the firm's global consumer, retail and marketing practices. Prior to that, he worked for William Grant & Sons, Ltd. in Glasgow, Scotland, and McKinsey & Company in London.
A native of Scotland, Andrew earned his Master of Management degree from Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management and his Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Edinburgh.
Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer
Nicole Theophilus was named executive vice president and chief human resources officer for ConAgra Foods in 2013. In this role, Nicole oversees the entire Human Resources function for the company as well as the Communication & External Relations department. Nicole joined ConAgra Foods in April 2006 as vice president and chief employment counsel, and in February 2007, added responsibilities as vice president of Human Resources for Commercial Foods. And in 2009, Nicole was named senior vice president, Human Resources for the entire company.
Prior to ConAgra Foods, Nicole was a partner in the law firm of Husch Blackwell Sanders LLP. She was initially located in the firm's Kansas City office, and moved to Omaha in 2001, where she led the Labor & Employment practice of the Omaha office. Nicole earned a B.A. from Drake University, and her J.D. from the University of Nebraska College of Law, where she graduated with honors.