MCLEAN, VA. — Maria Velissariou, PhD, has been named vice president of global corporate research and development and chief science officer at Mars, Inc., effective Sept. 13. In her new role, Dr. Velissariou will lead Mars' enterprise-wide approach to quality and food safety, scientific and regulatory affairs and deliver Mars' R&D strategy in partnership with its business segments. She will report to Jean-Christophe Flatin, president of innovation, science, technology and Mars Edge, and will partner with David Crean, current chief science officer and vice president of corporate R&D, as a transition to his retirement in April 2021.
Dr. Velissariou most recently was the chief science and technology officer at the Institute of Food Technologists. Before the IFT, she was vice president of nutrition R&D at PepsiCo, Inc., where she was responsible for global grains, dairy and cohort platforms. Earlier in her career, she held various R&D positions at Kraft Foods in coffee, refreshment beverages, cheese and dairy, and ingredient research. She also has led supplier relationship management in procurement, worked as a manufacturing engineer, and holds three patents.
Dr. Velissariou received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and a master’s degree and doctorate in biochemical engineering from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom.
She currently serves on the board of directors of the Chicago Council for Science and Technology and is a member of the Women Business Collaborative leaders' circle.
Mr. Crean will step down following a long and distinguished career at Mars that has seen him become a globally recognized expert in R&D with particular expertise in food safety. Mr. Crean joined Mars from the UK Public Health Laboratory service, working as a shift microbiologist in Slough, UK. From there, he took on leadership positions in developing markets and newly acquired businesses, rising through the ranks working in several of Mars' business segments. His many contributions to the company include developing novel analytical techniques, establishing global technology and research platforms, and many product and business innovations. More recently, he was the leader behind the further enhancement of Mars' approach to food safety and quality.
Mr. Crean led the development of Mars' Quality Management Process, and his vision and passion supported the creation of Mars' Global Food Safety Center, which focuses on groundbreaking technology breakthroughs and external collaboration. He also established many of the fundamental policies helping to guide and shape Mars' highly-principled approach to science.
“On behalf of the Mars community, we're excited to welcome Maria and look forward to her leadership in continuing to invest in our R&D and science agenda,” Mr. Flatin said. “Given her past experiences, Maria is well-positioned to ensure we continue to evaluate and apply external provocation, learn from and expand our specialized network of expert peers while attracting world-class talent. At the same time, I want to recognize the 34 years of stellar contributions by David Crean. I'd like to personally express my deepest gratitude to David on behalf of the entire Mars leadership team for decades of friendship, caring leadership, and his ability to embody Mars' Five Principles in how he championed quality and food safety within Mars and across the industry.”