Robert Schiffner, CFO of Campbell’s Soup

A profile of Robert Schiffner, CFO of Campbell's Soup. Plus: The booming market for fraud memorabilia.
Laura DeMars and Joseph McCaffertyAugust 1, 2006

Hitting the books:

B.A., Princeton University; M.B.A., Rutgers University

First job in a suit:

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Prudential Insurance in Newark, N.J.

Favorite job:

Vice president of finance planning and trade marketing at Nabisco Inc. (2 years). “I saw how the business operates from a different perspective. Knowing how the customer thinks is crucial to understanding the financial side of the business.”

Job hopper or lifer?

Spent 26 years at Nabisco, including stints as controller (1995–1997) and treasurer (1998–2001).

What’s your secret to success?

“I’ve always been able to prioritize, so I can concentrate on those areas that are sensitive to driving the company. I have a strong [ability to] focus.”

Early to rise:

“I get more work done between 7:15 A.M. and 9:30 A.M. than I do the rest of the day.”

Advice for up-and-comers:

“Be patient — a career is a journey, not a destination, so make sure you touch all of the bases on the way.”

If I weren’t a CFO I would be:

First baseman for the New York Yankees, or head football coach at Notre Dame. “Playing professional ball was one of the highlights of my life.” (Schiffner was drafted by the Yankees in 1971 and played in the minor leagues, but didn’t make it to the majors.)

Going Once… Going Twice…

What would you bid for a piece of scandalous corporate history? Or rather, for many pieces?

In July, auctioneers in Lubbock, Tex., brought down the gavel on a range of assets belonging to the estate of Jonathan “Jody” Nelson, former CFO of Patterson-UTI Energy. In April, Nelson pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $77 million from his employer. (He is currently awaiting sentencing.)

“We consider it the ultimate toy collection,” says Robert Love, of the auction house Ritchie Bros. The playthings included three Cessna aircraft, a Hughes helicopter, a 1954 Corvette, a Boston Red Sox jersey autographed by the 2004 World Series team, and a host of other sports memorabilia, boats, and motor craft. When it was over, the items took in more than $7 million, which will be paid back to the company.

It was the latest in a string of auctions designed to recoup some of the ill-gotten gains of executives and their companies. The rotating “E” that once adorned Enron’s downtown Houston headquarters — known as the “Disco E” — sold at auction in December 2002 for $33,000.

The biggest haul for a single fraud-related item remains the $5.1 million paid for a Monet in May at Sotheby’s. The painting, Pres Monte Carlo, once graced the lavish digs of former Tyco International CEO Dennis Kozlowski, sentenced to a maximum of 25 years for his role in the company’s accounting scandal.

Fraud memorabilia is a booming market. WorldCom stock certificates carrying the names of Bernard Ebbers and Scott Sullivan now sell for $139.95 — more than twice the value the shares traded for when they hit a high of $64 in June 1999 — on, an online seller of rare documents. — Joseph McCafferty

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