2009 ENE Outstanding Alumni Awards

Robert F. Sharpe, Jr.


President, Commercial Foods, and Executive Vice President, External Affairs   ConAgra Foods, Inc.

ROB SHARPE GRADUATED FROM Purdue in 1974 and was a member of Tau Beta Pi. He also received a degree from DePauw University under the 3-2 program. He subsequently received a law degree from Wake Forest University in 1978. He held a variety of attorney positions with RJR Nabisco until 1994, serving as its principal mergers lawyer and corporate secretary, and moved to New York in 1988 after representing the company in its $25 billion takeover by KKR. After a short stint as head of mergers and acquisitions at Tyco International, Mr. Sharpe returned to RJR in 1996 as Senior Vice President and General Counsel, where he represented the company in the landmark $450 billion settlement with State Attorney Generals. In 1998, he was named Senior Vice President and General Counsel for PepsiCo, where he also had responsibility for government and public affairs. He left PepsiCo in 2002 to become one of five U.S. partners for the Brunswick Group, a leading global financial public relations firm.

In 2005, Mr. Sharpe left Brunswick to join ConAgra Foods as Executive Vice President, Legal and External Affairs. A leading branded-foods company, ConAgra is the name behind well-known household brands including Healthy Choice, Chef Boyardee, Egg Beaters, Hebrew National, Hunt’s, Orville Redenbacher’s, PAM, and Banquet.
In 2008, Mr. Sharpe was also named President, Commercial Foods, when he added management of ConAgra’s $4.5 billion commercial business to his responsibilities. The Commercial Foods business accounts for approximately 40 percent of the company’s revenue and includes North America’s largest potato processor, the third-largest flour miller, and the largest dehydrated vegetable producer. As leader of External Affairs, Mr. Sharpe also oversees mergers and acquisitions, government affairs, investor relations, and corporate communication.
Mr. Sharpe serves on the board of directors of Ameriprise Financial and is an executive advisor to StarVest Partners, a business-to-business Internet venture fund in New York. He lives in Mount Kisco, New York, with his wife, Maria. His son lives in North Carolina, and he has a daughter who is a senior at Dartmouth and another daughter who is a junior at DePauw.