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Diversity In Action

Hershey is sweet on packaging engineers

The chocolate manufacturer is specially interested in Spanish or Portuguese speaking techies, and everyone needs to be geographically flexible

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Andre Goodlett: the coming retirement bubble has changed the situation.

Andre Goodlett: the coming retirement bubble has changed the situation.

The Hershey Co (Hershey, PA) needs engineers for manufacturing facilities worldwide, says Andre Goodlett, senior director of inclusion and diversity. It's bringing in experienced technical folks in areas like packaging, process optimization and controls.

Historically Hershey has not brought in a lot of outside employees because its engineers tend to stay with the company for a long time. But the coming retirement bubble has changed the situation. "We have 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 leading snack food company and North America's largest manufacturer of chocolate and non-chocolate confectionary products. Besides the U.S., Mexico and Canada, the company exports 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 some MEs, EEs and ChEs, and food scientists with graduate degrees.

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

The company's hiring strategies are geared toward diversity in technology. The diverse candidates are sought through technical networks, technical job boards and diversity-oriented career fairs. Hershey offers its 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 tries to make employees' families feel welcome. The company 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 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.

When it comes to community involvement, Goodlett points to the trust fund established by company founder Milton S. Hershey. 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 from preschool to high school seniors, and has an endowment of more than $6 billion.

The school has a high graduation rate, and about 40 percent of its students go on to college. Under Hershey's Project Fellowship, company departments "adopt" students in the school's group homes.

The school's assets currently include 30 percent ownership in the Hershey Co and 100 percent ownership of Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Co. "A significant part of the company's profit has been making a difference in the lives of kids since the 1920s," Goodlett says.

Some Hershey employees also work with Habitat for Humanity, Junior Achievement and a diverse local high school in Harrisburg, PA. The company also helps Juvenile Diabetes and the Children's Miracle Network. It sponsors a scholarship program for minority youth through the UNCF and supports the local YMCA Black Achievers program.

"There are a lot of hands-on opportunities for folks to give back to the community," Goodlett says. "It's nice to work for a company that when you say the name, people smile."



Headquarters: Hershey, PA
Employees: 20,300
Employees: 13,000+ worldwide
Revenues: More than $4 billion
Business: More than $4 billion Business: Snack foods; chocolate and non-chocolate confectionary products


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