NCA Future Leadership Program

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Invest in Your Future

NCA’s Future Leadership Program awards five deserving young professionals (40 and under) an exclusive opportunity for networking and professional development. For one year, Future Leaders receive recognition among their colleagues, complimentary registration to NCA’s three signature events and a professional industry mentor selected by the YPN Committee.

The program is designed to provide support, education, access and opportunity to young professionals who wish to advance into the ranks of leadership. Through its implementation, NCA hopes to encourage more young professionals to assume such leadership positions and develop a more diverse pool of leaders within the industry.

The application period for the 2019 Future Leadership Program is now closed. Candidates will be notified in mid-December regarding their application. If you would like more information about the Future Leadership Program, please contact VJ Mayor.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Opportunity is open to current employees of NCA member companies and qualified retail customers
  • Candidates must be under 40 years of age
  • Candidates must have at least three (3) years of experience in the confectionery industry
  • Candidates must demonstrate commitment and dedication to the confectionery industry
  • Candidates must have aspirations for executive leadership within the confectionery industry

 

2018 Future Leaders

ARSHBIR GHUMAN

Channel Lead – Brand Licensing & Ingredient Sales, Mars Wrigley Confectionery

Arsh Ghuman is the Channel Lead – Brand Licensing & Ingredient Sales for Mars Wrigley Confectionery. During her time with the company, Arsh has transformed e-commerce into a core competency at Mars Chocolate – shaping the value proposition and positioning. She has also built an assortment management framework to identify opportunities for product, pricing, and promotion on Amazon and Jet.com. Traveling the world is in Arsh’s DNA as she has visited nearly 20 countries and doesn’t foresee stopping anytime soon.

LANA JONES

Brand Manager, HARIBO of America, Inc.

Lana Jones began her career within CPG in 2008 with ECRM. During her time as a Retail Director, she was given the opportunity to work closely with retailers and developed a passion for the confectionery industry. Since leaving ECRM, she has had the opportunity to work as a Brand Manager for Russell Stover, Associate Category Manager for Candy at Walgreens, and Brand Manager for HARIBO of America. Through these experiences, Lana has developed an understanding of manufacturing, product development, brand marketing and merchandising.

SHARON MONTGOMERY

Inside Sales Manager, Adams & Brooks

Originally from a small town, farm and big family, Sharon learned early on the value of hard work and dedication. Now, she says she’s blessed with a fun and challenging career in an industry that she loves. Sharon started with Adams & Brooks as a Marketing & Sales Assistant, and has since climbed up the ladder increasing her responsibilities as Inside Sales Manager. She interfaces directly with brokers and customers, developing strategies and products, and enjoys staying abreast on industry issues. She is passionate about building relationships and developing her leadership skills.

JASON MUSICK

President, Jason Scott Specialty Foods

Jason Musick’s whole life has been surrounded by the food business. His father, Gary Musick, ran various food companies while he was growing up. Jason graduated with two business degrees at Drake University, followed by an MBA in general business at Lynn University in Boca Raton. During his time in school and shortly after, he worked multiple jobs in various food areas from hospitality to catering to production. Through these experiences, Jason has absorbed as much knowledge as possible which led to the creation of his own business in 2015.

MELISSA TISONCIK

R&D Corporate Manager – Product Development, Blommer Chocolate Company

Melissa Tisoncik has worked for Blommer for seven years and was recently promoted to the position of R&D Corporate Manager-Product Development. In her role, Melissa leads a cross-site team of managers that provide technical services support in North America, Canada, and China. She earned her B.A. in chemistry from Illinois Wesleyan University and a M.S. in Food Science from the UIUC. She has served as the Chairperson of the AACT Chicago Section since 2013 and has spoken at both AACT and PMCA national conferences since joining the industry.

2017 Class of Future Leaders
Becca Mandru

BECCA MANDRU

Director, Drug Channel, Carlin Group

Becca launched her career within the retail industry in 2009 as a Merchandise Analyst at Kohl’s Corporation. In 2010, she took her knowledge and passion for retail to Walgreens Corporation, where she landed on the promotional planning team. She analyzed the effectiveness and profitability of the promotions run at Walgreens and developed an innovated new promotional planning tool that aided decision making across all retail categories. In July 2012, Becca was promoted to a Category Specialist of Confections and has been in the Confection Industry ever since. During her time at Walgreens, she was busy establishing a reputation of taking on new categories and ensuring growth.

She also had a wonderful opportunity during her time at Walgreens to help launch WNEXT, Walgreens Young Professionals Business Resource Group.
In 2015, Becca took her experience and moved into the broker community, working first as a Business Manager at the Carlin Group (formerly Carlin O’Brien). She used her wealth of knowledge from a retail perspective to help drive growth and advise confection manufacturers on the development of best in class retail programs. In 2016, she was promoted to Director of Business Development and Strategy for the Carlin Group, tasked with the execution of the strategic vision of Carlin Group’s clients within the Drug Channel.

Kate McAleer

KATE McALEER

Owner & Founder, Bixby & Co.

Kate McAleer is an owner and founder of Bixby & Co., an artisan confectionary producer located in the historic working waterfront of Rockland, Maine. Bixby & Co. was founded in 2011 to produce and sell unique natural and organic chocolate products. Kate earned her honors BA from New York University and holds diplomas in pastry arts and culinary management from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. The first Bixby Bars were developed after experimentation and trial and error in the family kitchen and are currently sold across the country in over a 1000 specialty and natural food stores. Kate is the 2014 Gorham Savings Bank LaunchPad Winner, MaineBiz 2014 “Nexter” of the top 10 people impacting Maine’s economy, and the 2015 Small Business Administration’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year for Maine and 2016 Tory Burch Foundation Fellow and Tory Burch Foundation Grand pitch prize winner of $100,000.

Rutherford Ross

ROSS RUTHERFORD

Director, Category Management, Harvest Hill

Ross Rutherford began his career in the CPG industry with The Carlin Group (formerly BeaconUnited Cincinnati) as a Category Analyst shortly after completing his Master’s Degree in Organizational Communication at the University of Cincinnati. Within six months, Ross was promoted to a Senior Confection Analyst and began working on numerous special projects for Kroger’s Seasonal Category Manger. In his first year as a Business Manager, Ross won Ghirardelli’s Broker Incentive Trip for year over year sales growth.

In October 2014 Ross made the transition to the manufacturer side of the industry, joining DeMet’s Candy Company as the Central Region Business Manager. In January 2016, DeMet’s and Godiva – both owned by Yildiz Holdings – merged their North American sales teams to create pladis North America, a division of pladis global. In the new organization, Ross transitioned to Manager, Customer Marketing and has started to lead an organizational change in the way DeMet’s and Godiva communicate their story to the trade. In addition, Ross is working to build the brands by driving a deeper understanding of channel specific needs and opportunities, managing the flow of communication between sales and marketing, and strengthening the way the team operates as a holistic unit.

Caitlan Servian

CAITLIN SERVIAN

Assistant Brand Manager, Just Born Quality Confections

Caitlin Servian is a passionate and dedicated Assistant Brand Manager for the PEEPS® Brand at Just Born Quality Confections. A 2011 summa cum laude graduate of Moravian College, Caitlin earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Management, with a focus in Marketing and a minor in Mathematics. Caitlin currently works on the iconic seasonal candy brand, PEEPS®. In her role, Caitlin works on brand partnerships, manages the Christmas portfolio, and is currently planning for the Easter 2017 launch of PEEPS® Delights™.

Selfless service is important to Caitlin. Each summer, she serves as a Just Born mentor to a select group of high school students through Lehigh University’s Iacocca Institute’s Pennsylvania School for Global Entrepreneurship, coaching the students on a project and preparing them to present in front of Just Born leadership. Caitlin also participates in a yearly program that allows college students to learn more about business and marketing through job-shadowing.

pladis North America, Anthony Trani

ANTHONY TRANI

Vice President, Global Marketing, Topps Confections

Anthony Trani is currently the Global VP of Marketing and Innovation for Bazooka Candy Brands (BCB), the confectionery division of The Topps Company. Prior to joining BCB in 2009, Anthony worked in the Snacks Business Unit of Kraft Foods, currently a part of Mondelez. Since joining BCB, Anthony has worked to consistently grow both the BCB business and confections category by ramping up innovation activity and enhancing marketing programs. Through his work, Anthony has also had the opportunity to travel to and learn about the confectionery markets in Europe, South America, Korea, and Japan. He is incredibly proud of the BCB marketing team and the hard work they put in each and every day to drive the business forward both here in the U.S. and abroad.

In addition to his dedication to work, Anthony is passionate about service in the community. He currently serves as a Board Member and Finance Committee Chair for Brooklyn Community Housing and Services, an organization that provides safe and clean supportive housing for more than 1,000 formerly homeless women, children and men, with its mission being to end homelessness in Brooklyn, NY.

2016 Class of Future Leaders
Sarah Atkinson Headshot

Sarah Atkinson
Atkinson Candy Company

Sarah is the fourth generation of Atkinson family members to carry on the Atkinson Candy Company heritage. Sarah started working for Atkinson Candy Company during high school spending the summers assisting with administrative duties, trade shows and retail sales in the factory store. In 2007, Sarah became the marketing director for Atkinson Candy Company with full-time responsibilities in trade promotions, product innovation, trade events and office management. Today, Sarah is actively involved in all strategic planning, brand management, marketing activities and event planning for Atkinson Candy Company.

Elizabeth Clair Headshot

Elizabeth Clair
Barry Callebaut

Elizabeth Clair is national confectionery sales manager for Barry Callebaut, the world’s largest chocolate and cocoa company, and a third generation member of the American confectionery industry. A strong supporter of career-focused education, she actively participates in The Confectionery Foundation, the Curriculum Advisory Board of The French Pastry School in Chicago, as well as the Western Candy Conference, American Association of Candy Technologists and Institute of Food Technologists.

Byard Ebling Headshot

Byard Ebling
Shankman & Associates

Byard Ebling is a vlient development manager for Shankman & Associates. He oversees the client relationship as well as all aspects of sales, team management and revenue for the entire Shankman & Associates business for those key accounts. That client list today includes some of the most important confectionary companies that Shankman & Associates has in their total market basket of partnerships. In correlation to the success at Shankman & Associates and reputation in the market, Byard was nominated and voted in as the youngest board member for the Northern Ohio AGMR Trade Organization in January 2015.

Amy Guittard Headshot

Amy Guittard
Guittard Chocolate Company

Amy’s involvement at Guittard not only includes marketing activities, but also sourcing and sustainability, serving on several committees for the World Cocoa Foundation and often traveling to origin to meet with farmers, buyers and traders to continue Guittard’s long-standing tradition of collaborating on the ground with those closest to the source. Most recently, Amy led the brand refresh and launched several new consumer and professional products for the 146-year-old brand. In August 2015, Chronicle Books published Amy’s first cookbook, Guittard Chocolate Cookbook, Decadent Recipes from San Francisco’s Premium Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Company.

Chris Jenco Headshot

Chris Jenco
Jenco Brothers’ Candy

Chris began writing a business plan for the candy store he now owns with his brother while he was a senior at Hobart College. He did all the demolition on the building that would become Jenco Brothers’ Candy before working with a local architect. Local businesses have recognized the brand Chris created as one that is valuable to partner with. Proctor & Gamble has brought teams of engineers to the store for question-and-answer sessions with Chris on customer sensory experiences, mix and match products, and other topics relating to their fabric care line.