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HERSHEY, Pa. — The Hershey Co. is turning the president and CEO role over to Michele Buck, who currently services as executive vice president and chief operating officer.
Buck will succeed John P. Bilbrey, who announced his retirement plans in October. She takes the position effective March 1. Bilbrey will continue as non-executive chairman of Hershey's board of directors following his retirement.
"Michele is a proven leader who, during 11 years at Hershey and more than 25 years as an executive in the consumer packaged goods industry, has a demonstrated track record of building brands consumers love while bringing out the best in employees amid a rapidly changing business environment," Bilbrey said.
"She has consistently displayed a keen sense for how to grow our iconic brands. The unanimous vote by the board is a testament to the confidence we have in Michele as the next leader of this great company,” he added.
Since joining the company in 2005, Buck has spearheaded the development and execution of many successful growth initiatives and strategic shifts at the company, most notably Hershey's substantial growth in its core confection portfolio as it moved from a supply-driven to demand-driven business model.
She was the architect of the company's strategy to expand into broader snacking categories and oversaw the acquisitions of Krave and barkThins brands. She is a proven people leader and a champion of the Hershey culture through her ability to inspire, develop and connect with employees and customers, according to the company.
"Hershey is an incredibly special company with a rich 120-year history of bringing goodness to the world," Buck said. "I am honored to be chosen as the next leader of this innovative and pioneering business. The opportunity ahead for Hershey is tremendous, and to take advantage of it will require a clear focus on meeting the evolving needs of consumers while moving quickly to stay ahead of the trends shaping our business," she said.
The Hershey-based a global confectionary company markets, sells and distributes its products under more than 80 brand names in approximately 70 countries worldwide.