Great leaders bring strong guiding principles to the culture of a company and doesn’t Panera Bread know it! The fast-casual operation has been elevating its team in 2020, rising to the challenges of today’s market and consumer demands.
This month, Panera welcomed Claes Petersson to the role of Chief Food Innovation Officer and, as the role implies, he will be responsible for all culinary food innovation.
“I’m on the planet to eat—food is my passion—and for me, the restaurant business always begins with the food,” Petersson said. “To be able to join a brand like Panera with such an outstanding pantry of ingredients with which to create—it’s exciting, and I just can’t wait to get started.”
The new C-suite exec recently served as Chief Innovation Officer of Max Burgers, having also held executive roles at Pizza Hut at Yum! Brands, Sonic Drive-In, Godiva Chocolate, and Campbell Soup Company in Scandinavia.
Eduardo Luz also joined the team this past May as the new Chief Brand and Concept Officer, according to the company.
“I have been a long-time admirer of the Panera brand—it’s a huge positive force for the food industry, from its mission to its leadership in clean food and commitment to making great food accessible to all,” said Luz. “I’m excited to join the team and leverage the brand’s amazing legacy to take it to new highs, adding further excitement and energy to our brand and concept.”
Luz will elevate the team by overseeing marketing, culinary, digital, and strategy/insights for Panera. During Luz’s time in the industry, he served as U.S. Chief Marketing Officer at Kraft Heinz as well as in many other industry innovating roles.
Coming on board as the new SVP, Chief Procurement Officer, Roland Ornelas has joined the growing Panera team as well. He most recently worked as Chief Commercial Officer for Dunkin’ Brands’ supply chain cooperative NDCP, LLC, leading strategic sourcing, program management, and equipment services.
Gregg Waterman jumped on board earlier this year to boot, arriving as the new Chief Manufacturing and Supply Chain Officer bringing a range of expertise from time spent with Restaurant Supply Chain Solutions, the supply chain management group for Yum! Brands. He spent the previous 24 years at Coca-Cola.
“I’m proud to join this industry-leading brand and to work with such a highly talented leadership team,” Waterman said. “I look forward to building on Panera’s rich history and transforming the supply chain to enable us to be the most customer responsive in the world and to continue the brand’s commitment to its pantry of high-quality ingredients."
And the recent efforts of Panera have not stopped there. This spring, Panera welcomed Kathy-Jo “KJ” Payette as Chief People Officer where she now oversees the company’s human resources, learning and development, and internal communications departments.
David Gaidos brings a wealth of information as the new Chief Food Safety and Quality Officer as of March and, just before 2020 got underway, George Hanson arrived as SVP, Chief Digital Officer.
Gaidos has nearly 25 years of leadership roles in quality and food safety for major global brands including PepsiCo, Mars, and General Mills and was most recently VP, Global Quality and Food Safety for McCain Foods. Hanson served as Vice President, North America E-Commerce and Retail Stores for Under Armour, has led the digital business for Lane Bryant, and held various leadership U.S. and Global positions at Lands’ End.
The changing times of today demand that companies evolve to meet the new bar in leadership and in the market, and Panera Bread is doing it in spades.