The Hershey Co.’s Board of Directors has appointed Michele Buck, currently the company’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, as Hershey’s next president and CEO, effective March 1, 2017.
She will succeed John Bilbrey, who previously announced his intention to retire from the company. Bilbrey will continue as non-executive chairman of Hershey’s Board of Directors following his retirement as president and CEO.
“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,” said Bilbrey. “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 said.
“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,” said Pamela Arway, chair of the Governance Committee of Hershey’s Board of Directors and chair of the board’s special committee overseeing the CEO succession process.
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- 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.
“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.
“I look forward to working closely with our board and the entire Hershey team to further our vision for 2017 and beyond,” continued Buck. “I also would like to thank JP for his leadership, mentorship and friendship over the last several years. It is an honor to be succeeding him as CEO and I look forward to his continued guidance as chairman of our board.”