Exec VP-Chief Growth Officer Jacqueline Heslop McCook, tapped in March to oversee marketing, strategy development and international efforts, is stepping down. The news is making Wall Street even more convinced that CEO Gary Rodkin's plan to reinvigorate the company is far from a slam dunk.
"ConAgra's turnaround is not going to be easy, and this departure reflects that," said Prudential Securities analyst John McMillin.
'Wasn't a good fit'
A ConAgra spokeswoman said Ms. McCook is leaving "to simplify her life," noting especially the unsustainable commute Ms. McCook made from her Miami home to the company's Omaha, Neb., headquarters. But an executive close to ConAgra said that "she wasn't a good fit."
Finding someone who does fit hasn't been easy for the company. After years without an executive in charge of marketing, former CEO Bruce Rohde brought in Tropicana's Roger Berdusco as senior VP-marketing in 2003. After less than two years, Mr. Berdusco left, and the top post remained vacant until Ms. McCook, a former PepsiCo executive, joined the company.
Ms. McCook certainly has kept a low profile, with Mr. McMillin and other keen observers of ConAgra barely aware of her. One former ConAgra executive suggested Mr. Rodkin himself has taken the lead in driving the marketing function he deems so crucial to the company's growth. The company, however, said it is searching for a successor to Ms. McCook.