By Grace Beck, student writer
With more than 25 years of experience in the consumer packaged food industry, current CEO of Del Monte Foods Greg Longstreet (BA Business ’92) shared his experiences and advice with Broad College of Business MBA students February 1 as part of the Pung Executive Speaker Series.
This Broad alumnus has held CEO positions at Farmer John Foods, CytoSport (sports nutrition, with leading brand Muscle Milk), and now Del Monte Foods. Longstreet has taken these family-based companies under his wing while building a culture from within to drive engagement and bring results.
“Every industry faces the same issue: change and disruption. You have to evaluate your weaknesses and threats, and then take action. Do not discount that all this work is only possible by having a strong team and a strong culture,” said Longstreet.
When re-evaluating a company’s position in order to help it achieve long-term goals, he noted that consumer insight is particularly helpful. “Consumer research studies are popular. Knowing, ‘what do people think of the brand today, what needs to be fixed?’ is key. A good amount of qualitative and quantitative research must take place,” Longstreet said.
Del Monte Foods, Inc. is a distributor of branded processed foods, generating $2.0 billion in sales annually with more than 10,000 employees. Embedded in a multi-generational relationship with farmers, they process and package fresh fruit and vegetables.
Longstreet’s situation assessment for Del Monte Foods:
1.) Declining category and brand sales
2.) Lack of innovation and investment to contemporize brands
3.) Lack of alignment, communication, and culture of continuous improvement
4.) Shifting consumer landscape
Longstreet created a specific strategic plan for Del Monte’s future achievement:
1.) Renew values: commitment, health, ownership, innovation, collaboration, and excellence.
2.) Build relevance:
- Drive innovation
- Expand distribution
- Optimize organization
When looking to hire MBAs, Longstreet heavily emphasized the importance of experience and teamwork, noting, “I expect MBAs to bring in new ideas as well as the latest learning to the organization. I am looking for someone to bring new energy and new life. Your ability to work in teams and well with others is of high importance.”
MBA student Anirudh Gupta follows Longstreet’s advice, stating, “MBA students need to be up to date on the newest technology as well as the latest learning, bringing a fresh perspective to companies out of college.”