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Diversity in Action

Hershey is sweet on packaging engineers

The chocolate manufacturer recruits at schools strong in technology and diversity. Giving back to the community is a mainstay of the corporate culture

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Andre Goodlett: interns receive mentoring and 
"real-world experience."

Andre Goodlett: interns receive mentoring and "real-world experience."

The Hershey Co needs engineers for manufacturing facilities worldwide, says Andre Goodlett, senior director of inclusion and diversity.

Hershey has recently refocused its college recruiting efforts and is zeroing in on schools with a strong emphasis on diversity and technology, Goodlett reports. The company has traditionally worked with Penn State University (State College, PA), but is now expanding to other schools that have strong packaging engineering programs and diverse student populations.

Historically Hershey has not brought on a lot of new employees from the outside because its engineers tend to stay with the company for a long time. But the coming retirement bubble has changed the situation. "We have some folks who are retiring and, to keep ourselves current with industry trends, we are bringing in more new people than we have in the past," Goodlett says.

Hershey is a $4+ billion snack food company and North America's largest manufacturer of chocolate and non-chocolate confectionary products. Besides the United States, Mexico and Canada, the company exports products to more than ninety countries worldwide.

Goodlett says the company's biggest need is for packaging engineers. They're involved in the manufacturing processes at four plants in Pennsylvania, two in California, one in Tennessee and one in Virginia.

The company also employs a smattering of MEs and EEs as well as a few ChEs. It is also interested in food scientists, but applicants in that field need graduate degrees.

Hershey has plants in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Brazil, and sales locations in all fifty U.S. states, Puerto Rico, Asia, the Philippines and China. Hershey is very interested in applicants who speak Spanish, Portuguese or both, and all employees need to be geographically flexible, Goodlett notes.

Hershey pulls new entry-level talent mostly from its internship program, Goodlett says. Typical interns are between their junior and senior years. Interns get "real-world experience" and are also teamed up with an employee network group that provides mentoring opportunities.

Hershey offers new full-time hires access to its New Employee affinity team, which "functions like a buddy system through the early transition," Goodlett says.

The company also makes an effort to involve employees' families and make interns feel welcome. Families may travel to a minor league baseball game in nearby Harrisburg, and interns spend a day at Hershey's amusement park.

Hershey has had a corporate diversity council for several years, Goodlett says. In addition to the new hire support team, there are affinity groups for women in sales and minorities in sales, plus a sales diversity council. The company launched a corporate women's affinity group at the end of 2005, and this year it will launch an African American group, a Hispanic group and one or two others. Goodlett was brought on board to help Hershey reinvigorate its diversity initiatives as part of a changing corporate culture. "We have a CEO who's been with the company just over five years, and an almost completely new executive leadership team, most of whom have come from larger companies that have been doing this for quite some time," he notes.

Job applicants should know that the company has a bigger focus than selling chocolate bars, Goodlett says. Few people realize that founder Milton S. Hershey divested himself of his company shares and put them into the Hershey Trust. The sole beneficiary of the Trust is the Milton Hershey School, a boarding school established in 1909 for disadvantaged youth.. Today it serves 1,400 children, preschoolers to high-school seniors, and has an endowment of more than $6 billion.

The school's assets currently include 30 percent ownership in the Hershey company and 100 percent ownership of Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Co, plus other income-producing investments. So a large part of the company's profit "has been really making a difference in the lives of kids since the 1920s," Goodlett says. "It's nice to come to work for a company that when you say the name, people smile." The school has a high graduation rate, and about 40 percent of its students go on to college. Under Project Fellowship, Hershey departments can "adopt" a group of students in one of the group homes in which the students live.

Some Hershey employees also work with Habitat for Humanity, Junior Achievement and a diverse local high school in Harrisburg, PA. The company has a strong presence with Juvenile Diabetes and the Children's Miracle Network. It sponsors a scholarship program for minority youth through the UNC Fund and is a supporter of the local YMCA Black Achievers program.

"There are a lot of hands-on opportunities for folks to give back to the community," Goodlett says.


Federal-Mogul Corp

Headquarters: Hershey, PA
Employees: More than 13,000 worldwide
Revenues: More than $4 billion
Business: Snack foods; chocolate and non-chocolate confectionary products
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