The Hershey Co. has a new leader.
Michele Buck, the company’s executive v.p. and coo, will become the confectionery giant’s new president and ceo, effective March 1. She succeeds John P. Bilbrey, who announced his intention to retire in October.
Buck has been with Hershey for 11 years and has served as an executive in the consumer packaged good industry for 25 years. She was named executive v.p. and coo in June.
Bilbrey, who was named president and ceo in 2011, said he wanted to “hand over the reins” to spend more time with his family and grandchildren. He will remain as non-executive chairman of Hershey’s Board of Directors after his retirement in July.
Bilbrey said Buck has a “demonstrated track record of building brands consumers love while bringing out the best in employees.
“She has consistently displayed a keen sense for how to grow our iconic brands,” he says. “The unanimous vote by the board is a testament to the confidence we have in Michele as the next leader of this great company.”
Since joining Hershey, Buck has spearheaded the development of successful growth initiatives and strategic shifts, most notably in Hershey’s core confectionery portfolio as it moved from a supply- 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.
“As the board contemplated the right strategic leader for the next great chapter in Hershey’s history, it quickly became apparent that Michele offered the right mix of outstanding vision and proven execution to continue taking our company forward,” says Pamela Arway, chairperson of Hershey’s Board of Directors Governance Committee and of the board’s special committee overseeing the CEO succession process.
Buck says she looks forward to working with Hershey’s board and its executive team. She also thanked Bilbrey for his service.
“I am honored to be chosen as the next leader of this innovative and pioneering business,” Buck says. “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.”