Hershey, NCA Leadership Program: ‘A Special Place in My Heart and Career’

Originally published on thehersheycompany.com by Serena Bitzer, senior business analyst. The Hershey Company ranked No. 21 on The 2020 Fair360, formerly DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list.

Hershey has always had a very special place in my heart. Growing up in central PA, I remember the first time I tried many of our products as a child and have very fond memories of visiting Chocolate World and Hershey Park with my family. In elementary school, I dressed up as a Hershey Kiss in our school play about Pennsylvania history, and never imagined I could have a job making that same iconic silver-foiled Hershey Kiss.

I started my career as an intern at Hershey after graduating from Penn State. I knew I loved working at Hershey right away because of our open, collaborative and innovative culture — one that our founder, Milton Hershey, would certainly be proud to see. Our company is based on goodness through and through. One of the ways we create lasting change in our communities is to support students at the Milton Hershey School. I have been able to see first-hand the positive impact our company has on the next generation through a volunteer program called Project Fellowship. Making more moments of goodness is our company purpose and is not only related to our products, but it is in the core of who we are at Hershey.

Hershey’s culture of mentorship

I am lucky to have found many amazing mentors and leaders who have encouraged and challenged me. Mentorship for me began before I started my career — it began with family members and parents of friends, then professors. Once I began working at Hershey, many women and men from various departments offered their help and support. My leaders have always encouraged me to be creative and challenge the status quo. If I see an opportunity, I share my ideas and can even turn it into a project to lead. My managers have also been supportive of my interest and involvement in internal Hershey and external industry organizations. I am on the leadership team of our Women’s Business Resource Group (WBRG). The current COVID environment has been difficult for everyone. Through WBRG, we have been able to recognize challenges people are currently facing and continue creating resources to help our colleagues. The organization fosters an environment where employees at all levels are encouraged to support one another and improve for the future.

An industry as supportive as it is sweet

Within the industry, people have believed in me to hold leadership roles in Professional Manufacturing Confectioners Association and Institute of Food Technologists. Through these volunteer positions, I have been able to continue gaining leadership experience while growing my network of mentors. It was a mentor who initially encouraged me to explore National Confectioners Association (NCA) and I’m proud to now represent Hershey as a Class of 2021 NCA Future Leader.

Mentors have helped me navigate my career path to where I am today in Business Analytics and continue helping as I look toward the future. I observe my role models and how they lead to learn from them. I borrow the pieces that seem to work well and incorporate them into my own style. I continue learning new skills and now have my own mentees within Hershey. I was proud to hear that young women consider me a role model and am glad I can pay it forward by helping others navigate their careers. I hope to always continue fostering this collaborative and warm environment at Hershey and making a lasting impact at work and in our communities.