MCLEAN, Va., U.S. — Mars, Incorporated announced yesterday the hiring of Dr. Maria Velissariou as the new Global Corporate Research & Development (R&D) Vice President and Chief Science Officer. Dr. Velissariou joins 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 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.”
“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 honored 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.