Mars, Incorporated hired Dr. Maria Velissariou as the new global corporate research and 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 and regulatory affairs and deliver Mars' research and development strategy in partnership with its business segments.
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-profit 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.
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.
Dr. Velissariou will report into Jean-Christophe Flatin, president of innovation, science, technology and 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.
"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..."