Mars, Incorporated has announced it has hired Dr. Maria Velissariou as the new Global Corporate Research & Development (R&D) Vice President and Chief Science Officer. Dr. Velissariou joined Mars on Sept. 13 and will lead Mars’ enterprise-wide approach to Quality and Food Safety, Scientific & Regulatory Affairs and deliver Mars’ R&D strategy in partnership with its business segments. Dr. Velissariou will report into Jean-Christophe Flatin, President of Innovation, Science, Technology & Mars Edge and will partner with the existing Mars Chief Science Officer and Vice President of Corporate R&D, David Crean, as a transition to his retirement in April 2021.
Most recently, Dr. Velissariou was the Chief Science and Technology Officer at the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), where she oversaw science, technology, and policy strategies, advocated for the science of food, and partnered with stakeholders across industry, academia, government and non-profits to advance the food system. Dr. Velissariou is a long-time advocate for science, technology, engineering, and math programs, as well as initiatives to enhance diversity in business. 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.
“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,” said Flatin. “Given her past experiences, Maria 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. At the same time, 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.”
“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,” said Dr. Maria Velissariou. “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.”
Before IFT, Dr. Velissariou served in global corporate roles spanning industries and functions. As Vice President for Nutrition R&D at PepsiCo, 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 has also led supplier relationship management in procurement, worked as a manufacturing engineer, and holds three patents. 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.
David Crean’s Impact at Mars and on the R&D Community
During his long and distinguished career at Mars, David Crean has become a globally recognised expert in Research & Development with particular expertise in Food Safety. Crean joined Mars from the U.K. Public Health Laboratory service, working as a shift microbiologist in Slough, UK. From there, Crean took on leadership positions in developing markets and newly acquired businesses, rising through the ranks working in several of Mars’ business segments. Crean’s 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. Crean led the development of Mars’ Quality Management Process. His vision and passion supported the creation of Mars’ Global Food Safety Centre, a centre of research excellence focusing 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.
“It has been a real privilege to work at Mars for the past 34 years, as well as a fantastic journey,” said Crean. “I have witnessed first-hand the positive societal impact Mars brings to the communities it operates in, and I feel proud to have made my own contribution to that. I will always have an emotional connection to this truly special company.”
Crean’s impact has also been felt outside the company at organisations including the World Food Program, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, and the World Health Organisation, where he has been an active contributor on Quality and Food Safety, as well as driving the connection between Food Safety and Food Security.