SCARBOROUGH – Beth Newlands Campbell held business meetings with stuffed animals when she was a girl.

“I used to line them all up, and each one had its place,” said Newlands Campbell, 46, now president of Scarborough-based supermarket company Hannaford Bros. Co. “My father used to tell people he knew that something was up.”

In the 24 years since she joined Hannaford, Newlands Campbell has progressed from an entry-level post to head of the company, which has some 26,000 staff and annual revenue of roughly $5 billion.

Newlands Campbell, who lives in Cape Elizabeth, grew up in Pittsford, N.Y., a suburb of Rochester.

Her grandfather owned a small general store in Geneseo, N.Y., her father worked as a stockbroker, and her mother raised the family while juggling a teaching career.

Newlands Campbell considered a career trading stocks but changed her mind after working as a summer intern with her dad.

She attended Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., with plans of becoming a veterinarian but changed her path again after struggling with an organic chemistry course.

She started taking business classes, and a professor in the food marketing program sparked an interest in the food industry.

After graduating with a business degree from Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Newlands Campbell took a job at Hannaford.

She spent a year training in Hannaford’s Retail Management Training program, which still operates and is designed to groom future leaders.

She baked cakes, worked night shifts and learned to manage employees.

“It’s like going back to school for a year, but there are no books. You are learning the basics of the business,” she said of the program. “I (came) from an Ivy League school, and the first day I was bagging groceries.”

Newlands Campbell advanced to such positions as assistant store manager, store manager and district manager. She also held jobs in human resources and positions with responsibility for strategy, marketing, research and real estate.

In 2009, Newlands Campbell, then executive vice president, was named president of the company, which has 178 stores in five states.

The job takes her up and down the East Coast, and to meetings in Europe with executives at Belgium-based Delhaize Group, Hannaford’s corporate owner. She is married and has two daughters, Caleigh, 10, and Caroline, 12.

She spends free time attending her daughters’ sports games — they play soccer, lacrosse, softball and basketball. The family also enjoys horseback riding and owns three horses and a donkey named Joseph.

Jonathan Hemmerdinger can be reached at 791-6316 or:

[email protected]