Mars Inc has announced the appointment of Dr Maria Velissariou as its new vice-president of global corporate research and development and chief science officer, effective 13 September.
Dr Velissariou will lead the company’s enterprise-wide approach to quality and food safety, scientific and regulatory and deliver Mars’ research and development strategy in partnership with its business segments, the company said.
She will report to the president of innovation, science, technology and Mars Edge, Jean-Christophe Flatin.
Dr Velissariou will work in partnership with the current chief science officer and vice-president of corporate R&D, David Crean, who is to retire in April 2021 after 34 years of service.
Flatin commented, “I want to recognise 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.”
He welcomed Velissariou to the company and said, “Given her past experiences, Maria [Velissariou] is well-positioned to ensure we continue to evaluate and apply external provocation, learn from and expand our specialised network of expert peers while attracting world-class talent.”
'An Experienced Professional'
Dr Velissariou is an experienced professional, who most recently served as the chief science and technology officer of the Illinois-based Institute of Food Technologists (IFT).
She was responsible for overseeing science, technology, and policy strategies, advocating for the science of food, and forging partnerships with stakeholders across industry, academia, government and non-profits to advance the food system.
She has also been an advocate for science, technology, engineering, and math programs, as well as initiatives to enhance diversity in business for a long time.
Currently, she 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.
She held several global corporate roles across various industries and functions before joining IFT.
She served as the vice-president for Nutrition R&D at PepsiCo and 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, Mars added.
'Meaningful Impact On Food Industry'
Commenting on her new role, Dr Velissariou said, “With global population growth and increase of supply chain complexities, I’m motivated by the legacy of resource, reach, and commitment of Mars to make a meaningful impact on the food industry.”
“As such, I’m honoured and excited to join Mars and its dynamic community of associates to build upon their momentum of positively disrupting the industry to stay relevant with consumers while ensuring the best-in-class quality and food safety practices.”
Velissariou, who also worked as a manufacturing engineer, holds three patents.
In addition, she has led supplier relationship management in procurement.
Dr Velissariou earned a Ph.D. and master’s degree in Biochemical Engineering from the University of Birmingham and a B.Eng. in Chemical Engineering from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece.