Humbled is an understatement. Taking on leadership and responsibility for Hershey’s Sales organization, which our CEO, Michele Buck, rightly calls a “dynasty” is tremendous. The people that make up this dynasty are my friends, mentors and teachers. I’ve had the pleasure of growing the business over many years with Hershey’s talented people. I can tell you they are the very best in the business.
I’ve spent my whole career at Hershey. The company has given so much to me, and I’ve worked many long, hard days for the company. Why? Because I believe in our mission, vision and those standing shoulder to shoulder with me.
At Hershey’s recent National Sales Meeting, I stood in front of my friends, colleagues and team to introduce my vision for Hershey Sales: Insights Driven Sales.
We’re leaders. We’re building from a position of strength. Our brands have a 98% household penetration. Other companies would kill for that number. Candy, snacks and gum are very responsive to merchandising. We see a 66% lift with merchandising on the store floor. It’s clear we have an opportunity to move from great to elite…the rare air few breathe. I assured the team that that’s where Hershey Sales is headed.
I also spent time sharing my 20+ career at Hershey. I want to do the same for you.
If you’ll believe it, Jeff Linskie, the man who hired me as a young kid from Boston, was in the audience at this year’s National Sales Meeting. I asked him to stand. Not sure whether people in the room were cheering or booing about his fateful hire.
In that first job, I learned first-hand that retail is detail. I love being in store. It’s grueling, challenging and more rewarding than any job I’ve had since.
After that, I moved into a District Sales Supervisor role where I managed a group of women who cared about me as a person. More specifically, they cared about setting me up on dates with their daughters, nieces, friend’s kids and so forth. I didn’t meet my lovely wife that way, but they sure tried.
I then had the opportunity to lead the creation of Hershey’s ground-breaking category management team. For nearly two decades, that team has become the industry standard. Our insights, category-first mindset and retail advisor ships are respected across CPG. Being on the ground floor building that competitive advantage taught me so much about what it takes to do ground-breaking work.
More recently, I led Hershey’s Walmart team and worked on growing Hershey’s business in China. Talk about two totally different experiences. I went from being a category leader at a top American retailer to a small player in a country I knew very little about. I learned how to be scrappy, to fight for every inch, and I lean on that lesson every day.
Hershey Sales has an incredible runway. We’re going to unleash our core and walk with the swagger of an industry leader. At the same time, my focus is building a next-generation Insights Driven Sales organization that remains the industry gold standard ten, twenty, fifty years from now. And, like my entire career, I look forward to doing in side-by-side with a Sales team that consistently delivers with heart and a will to win.
The response from the sales organization after this year’s annual sales meeting has been incredible. Every day my inbox is flooded with great examples of how our teams are “unleashing the core and asking for more.” I love the energy and passion of the best selling organization on the planet! We’ve only just begun.