Mars, Incorporated announced 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.
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.
During his long and distinguished career at Mars, David Crean has become a globally recognized expert in research & development with particular expertise in food safety. Crean joined Mars from the UK 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 center, a center 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.