Michele Buck, Hershey
Michele Buck becomes c.e.o. March 1, 2017 succeeding John P. Bilbrey, tenure 2011-16

The Hershey Co.

HERSHEY, PA. — To understand how the future of The Hershey Co. may look under Michele Buck’s leadership one need only think of one word — snacks. In her most recent role as chief operating officer, Ms. Buck has started Hershey on a journey outside the candy aisle and into one of the fastest growing categories in food and beverage.

Yet Ms. Buck also comes to her new job with a decade of inside knowledge about Hershey’s leadership role in confectionery, and that experience prompted the board of directors of the Hershey Co. to elevate her to the position of the company’s next c.e.o. After spending several years at Kraft Foods, Ms. Buck joined Hershey in 2005 as senior vice-president and global chief marketing officer. This past June she was promoted to executive vice-president and chief operating officer. Now, she’ll get her turn as president and c.e.o. of the company beginning in March, succeeding John P. Bilbrey.

During her tenure at Hershey, Ms. Buck has spearheaded the development and execution of a number of strategic initiatives, including the company’s move from a supply-driven business model to a demand-driven business model. She also has led Hershey’s expansion into broader snacking categories, overseeing the acquisitions of the Krave jerky and barkThins snacking chocolate brands.

In an Oct. 28, 2016, conference call with analysts, Ms. Buck provided what might have been a peek under the hood at her strategy for Hershey going forward, stressing the need for “sticky” innovation, projects that have a longer lifecycle and may cross a variety of platforms.

“Having that sustainable big platform innovation gives us sustaining innovation over a multi-year period of time,” Ms. Buck said. “And that’s one of the biggest focuses for us; is making sure that we have sticky innovation
so that it doesn’t just launch and come out.”

The company’s March 1 investor day, which coincides with Ms. Buck’s ascension to the c.e.o. role, is expected to provide more clarity on how the seasoned Hershey leader intends to shape the future of the company.