Will Bonifant, VP of Engineering at The Hershey Company, says manufacturers must develop innovative ways to harness digital technology and data to deliver new sources of value.
Q: What is your role and focus?
A: As Vice President of Engineering, I have the privilege to lead a fantastic team of technical professionals that help Hershey deliver on its vision of being an Innovative Snacking Powerhouse. My responsibilities include ownership of Hershey’s capital investment program, technical solutions to support commercialization of new products, a breakthrough engineering program that develops advanced digital and technical solutions, and management of Hershey’s facilities worldwide.
Q: What is the most pressing issue facing the manufacturing industry today?
A: The manufacturing industry is facing tremendous challenges. We are truly in a time when standing still means getting passed by and losing competitive advantage. Competition continues to get fiercer, both from entrenched large players and emerging smaller ones. Embracing Industry 4.0 and digitally connecting the end-to-end supply chain (both internally, as well as integrating with external partners) will be essential to remaining relevant in any industry. It is critical for companies to become more technologically advanced, innovate, and be open to change.
Q: What is your most important corporate initiative?
A: Delivering our Supply Chain strategy and investment plan, largely focused on Industry 4.0 areas. The initiative includes work to advance technology in critical areas like smart manufacturing, planning & forecasting, complexity reduction, automation, and robotics. Ultimately, this will help improve our consumer offerings (quality, innovation), as well as our agility to serve customer partners. It’s a very exciting time!
Q: What will be the most important leadership qualities to possess in the future?
A: Success requires the best efforts of all team members, so leaders need to inspire the team to bring their best selves to work. Leaders need to relate to and value their teammates as individuals. Connection is important – leaders need to connect with team members on a personal level, and they also need to connect their teams to the bigger picture, helping to show how the work is delivering value and purpose.
Q: What will be the greatest opportunities for manufacturers over the next five years?
A: Technology is moving so fast, opening up opportunities to realize value across the entire business spectrum – all the way from how we source material, convert our product, distribute to customers, and interact with consumers. The biggest opportunities will be for manufacturers to develop innovative ways to harness digital technology and data to deliver new sources of value.
Q: What is your favorite activity outside of work?
A: I enjoy running with my dog, Thor, in the morning, and spending quality time with my wife and two sons in the evening.
Title: Vice President, Engineering
Company: The Hershey Company
Location: Hershey, PA
Size: $7.79 Billion Revenues (2018); 14,930 Employees
Website: http:// www.thehersheycompany.com