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Bonus Episode: Lou Nieto Keeps a Strategy-First Philosophy

Lou Nieto grew up fascinated by strategy.

A kid once destined for law school, he devoured battle maneuvers from historic wars and studied chess—a game he still believes doubles as a potent metaphor for life.

Nieto’s interest in strategy translated seamlessly to his leadership roles in corporate America, in which he held high-ranking positions with Kraft, Dean, and ConAgra Foods. It was in business where he was able to fully realize his potential as a strategic thinker—someone who could not only revive a faltering company, like he did at ConAgra, but also set it up for success.

Retired since 2009, he continues to advise and mentor a growing community of Latino entrepreneurs, teaching each of them that it’s their responsibility to define their own potential.

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About Our Guest

Lou is president of Nieto Advisory LLC, an advisory firm that works with small and mid-cap consumer foods companies. He retired in 2009 as president of ConAgra’s $8.0B Consumer Foods business. He was previously President of ConAgra Meats in 2005 and President/CEO of the Federated Group, a private label business, from 2002 to 2005. He was a Group President and Corporate Officer of Dean Foods where he worked from 1999 to 2002. Earlier, he spent 2 years with Mission Foods and 10 years with Kraft Foods. Lou started his career with Quaker Oats in 1981.

Lou has served on the Ryder Systems board since 2007, including as chair of its Finance Committee for 6 years. He served on the Auto Zone board from 2008 to 2019. He also served as board chair of Fresh & Ready Foods, a private equity owned business, from 2014 to 2021.

Lou has been involved locally and nationally in the effort to increase educational opportunities for disadvantaged youth. He served as the founding Chairman of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School’s Board of Trustees from 1994 to 1996 and as a board member until 2000. He has also been very involved with his various alma maters, church and community. Lou has been involved with his parish in religious education, benevolence efforts and other leadership activities. He served in a leadership role with youth soccer in his community for over 7 years. He was a six-year member of the University of Chicago’s College Visiting Committee and has co-chaired multiple reunions. Lou also served as an elected village park district commissioner for six years. He is currently on the Chicago Community Trust board and the Chicago Archdiocesan School board. He completed recently 6 years on the St. Ignatius College Prep board of trustees.

Lou is a Harvard MBA where he was President of the Latino Association. He earned a BA from the University of Chicago where he served in numerous student leadership roles and was elected to the Maroon Key Honorary Society. He is an alumnus of St. Ignatius College Prep, in Chicago.