“As soon as I learned Hershey was involved with Partners in Food Solutions (PFS), I knew I wanted to get engaged,” said Mary Marette, a senior design manager at The Hershey Company. “In 2015, I just started a new job at Hershey and saw PFS as an opportunity to engage with the company, work with others and learn by doing.”
Mary initially got involved with PFS in 2008 when she worked at General Mills and was encouraged by her director to get involved. “My boss at General Mills was instrumental in getting our team involved with PFS. She really advocated for us to apply our expertise outside our day-to-day work and develop our skills in new and varied situations,” Mary, who now works at Hershey, strives to bring a similar experience to her team at Hershey.
Kelly McManus, an associate design manager and relatively new face at Hershey, had just started on Mary’s team when Mary suggested she get involved with a PFS project. “As I looked at Kelly, I saw someone who was new to Hershey and needed an opportunity to engage and stand out. I thought having Kelly join me on a PFS project would be a great way for her to meet people, get more engaged, do hands-on design work and most importantly develop her leadership skills,” Mary said. An opportunity arose for them to work together on a PFS project designing a logo and packaging for three Kenyan milling companies.
“This project was definitely something that got me out of my comfort zone and pushed me both professionally and personally,” Kelly said. “My day job primarily focuses on overall design strategy, so joining a PFS project allowed me to dust off my boots and get more involved in the actual design work. I had never worked on a global initiative before, so this was a completely new experience for me. The market is really different than the United States’ and we had to learn about their customers, shelf set, culture, etc. The project included many 6:00 am calls and asking a lot of questions like ‘What’s the difference between Maize and Sorghum?’ and ‘How is the product typically transported?’”
"To see a visual representation of our client's everyday lives, we requested pictures of their surroundings. We then received images from the client on WhatsApp of them in the middle of their field surrounded by goats. When we asked what the significance of the goats were we learned that ‘he goats’ represent pride, and it was a treasure to own a goat, especially when there was a drought. This type of real-time sharing and learning about a client and their culture first-hand made the project much more real.” And, Kelly said, it was a great opportunity to work with her supervisor on something completely new and different. “My boss was incredibly helpful throughout the whole project. Since she had participated in PFS projects before, she helped set the expectation and guided me through leading the creative direction for the three milling companies.”
With support from a Minneapolis-based creative agency, the project finished in November with four unique packaging designs. These designs will now be sent to a local printer in Kenya where they will be printed on packaging for the local market. “I am really proud of Kelly,” Mary said. “In addition to learning about a new client and getting back into hands-on design work, Kelly also had to think about where the client was with technology, what type of printers they had access to and what colors and types of branding would resonate with a culture that was different than her own. Her involvement in PFS truly illustrated her ability to deal with ambiguity, showcased her talent, revealed her desire to learn and engage, and highlighted her leadership skills. Kelly went above and beyond, all while using her skills to give back.” And while working with a client thousands of miles and many, many time zones away she also learned a little something extra about her colleague, “I also learned that Kelly is not a morning person.”