Chairman's Award 2023

Chairman's Award 2023 - Barry Callebaut

Chairman's Award 2023

Back in 1995, Barry Callebaut's founding father, Klaus Jacobs, initiated the Chairman's Award: every year, we honor colleagues from all over the globe for their outstanding work performance and strong social commitment in their local communities. Recipients of the annual award are individuals who embody the Barry Callebaut values of customer focus, passion, entrepreneurship, team spirit and integrity. The award was handed over from our Chairman, Patrick de Maeseneire and CEO, Peter Feld, on June 29, 2023, in Zurich.

Our Chairman’s Award winners: watch the video of their journey!

Barry Callebaut Chairman Award 2023

Congratulations to the 2023 winners!

  • Mr. Dennis Gruter - Zundert / The Netherlands
  • Mr. Juan Carlos Sanchez - Monterrey / Mexico
  • Mrs. Daniela Machado - Extrema / Brazil
  • Mrs. Chia Xi (Chelsea) Soh - Kuala Lumpur / Malaysia
  • Mrs. Claudia Radi - Norderstedt / Germany
  • Mrs. Gabrielle Alder - Zurich / Switzerland
  • Mr. Geert Schockaert - Wieze / Belgium
  • Mr. Gorrit Vercauteren - Wieze / Belgium
  • Mrs. Joanna Pelka - Lodz / Poland
  • Mrs. Kerri Greco - Dunmore / USA
  • Mrs. Patricia Evelyne Blah - Abidjan / Ivory Coast

Mr. Dennis Gruter
Sales Manager Beverages Benelux
Zundert / The Netherlands

Dennis has showcased remarkable customer focus since joining BC, fostering strong relationships even during challenging times like the Covid-19 pandemic. His entrepreneurial mindset enables him to identify growth opportunities in his region and pursue them with a strong team spirit, forging partnerships that provide the right solutions for customers. This exemplifies how our BC values drive company growth, as Dennis has achieved over 50% business growth in his region, surpassing his target by nearly 30%.

Outside of work, Dennis is a proud father of two children, his 21-year-old son and his 19-year-old daughter.

Dennis not only embodies our BC values but also contributes to his local community in his spare time through the "ANWB - Automaatje" platform. This platform offers elderly individuals flexible transportation access from home to healthcare facilities. Specifically, Dennis drives seniors in the Breda area to doctor and hospital appointments, waits for them during the appointments, and ensures their safe return home.

Dennis Gruter
Dennis Gruter and Peter Feld

Mr. Juan Carlos Sanchez
Senior Indirect Buyer
Monterrey / Mexico

Juan, also known as Juanito, has been an integral part of the maintenance department since the company's inception. Through his dedication and hard work, he was promoted to the role of senior indirect buyer, where he excels in negotiating and securing advantageous agreements for the company. He consistently ensures that the needs of various departments are met through his contract management with internal and external customers.

Beyond his professional achievements at Barry Callebaut, Juanito has actively contributed to his community. He showcases his musical talents by playing in different churches, participating in patron saint festivals, and supporting church-organized raffles that benefit the community. He contributes by selling tickets, assisting with food pantries, donating clothing, providing financial support, and coordinating events.

Juanito holds the values of working for the common good close to his heart, setting an example for his children, Carla and Antonio. He instills in them the importance of selfless support, helping others without expecting anything in return, and making a positive impact wherever possible.

Juan Sanchez and Patrick De Maeseneire
Patrick De Maeseneire and Juan Sanchez

Mrs. Daniela Machado
Regional Planning Coordinator
Extrema / Brazil

Daniela has experienced a remarkable career journey during her nearly seven years with the company. She has consistently played a central role in driving productivity improvements in the factory, earning her numerous internal recognitions and awards. These include accolades for improvement projects, team board highlights, employee of the month, and recognition for outstanding performance in the Easter delivery. Additionally, Daniela currently serves as an ambassador for the AWF (Americas Women's Forum) in Brazil.

Outside of work, Daniela is a dedicated volunteer leader at UNIADECC (União Infantil da Assembleia de Deus do Campo de Cambuí). She actively participates in social causes, primarily focused on children, such as providing music classes (as she plays the cello), education, and theater activities.

She also organizes meetings for women in her city, offering spiritual, psychological, and family support, as well as delivering informative lectures on various topics. Her philanthropic efforts have gained recognition, as she was invited by the local municipality council to discuss her projects and showcase her mastery of the cello to the community. Daniela is a proud mother of two children, aged 22 and 9.

Daniela Machado
Peter Feld and Daniela Machado

Mrs. Chia Xi (Chelsea) Soh
Product Expert
Kuala Lumpur / Malaysia

Chelsea joined BC as a graduate trainee and is known for her unwavering energy and passion. Throughout her various roles in R&D, she has consistently displayed a customer-focused mindset and immense passion, achieving early success in the SEA market, creating groundbreaking recipes for Garuda Foods in Indonesia, and handling significant outsourcing projects.

When faced with challenges, Chelsea leads with both her head and heart. During the COVID lockdown, she spearheaded alternative Ways of Working (WoW) initiatives to prioritize team safety and business objectives.

Community work has been a long-standing commitment for Chelsea and Kai. Their involvement began 15 years ago when Chelsea joined the Tzu Chi Collegiate Youth Association Malaysia as a university student. After graduating, Chelsea continued her community work with the Tzu Chi Foundation in Selangor. Her focus primarily involved secondary school students, organizing a wide range of activities including charitable work, medical assistance, educational and cultural programs, and environmental protection efforts. During the December 2021 flood, Chelsea volunteered to clean the homes of flood victims. Recently, she provided support to children by delivering and teaching them how to use desktops and laptops for online studying during the lockdown and still actively plans engagement activities for high school students visiting the foundation.

Chia Xi (Chelsea) Soh
Patrick De Maeseneire and Chia Xi (Chelsea) Soh

Mrs. Claudia Radi
R&D Technical Services Expert
Norderstedt / Germany

When Claudia joined Barry Callebaut, she faced the challenge of establishing the R&D team in Germany. She not only delivered exceptionally well but also excelled in this endeavor. Claudia went above and beyond to shape, motivate, and manage a strong team, while also building the R&D pilot lab in Norderstedt. Her infectious enthusiasm and dedication to doing good have made a significant impact.

This fiscal year, she developed the Cocoa & Chocolate College for the DACH region, focusing on sharing  knowledge in the local language, offering flexibility, and making it accessible to customers from all segments and departments. The result was outstanding, with over 260 participants from more than 50 DACH customers who appreciated the course.

Outside of Barry Callebaut, Claudia engages in meaningful activities related to current issues. During the early days of the pandemic, she sewed over 100 masks and donated them to a medical department in her neighborhood, providing protection for healthcare workers. Claudia also knits socks and sells them, donating the proceeds to a winter charity that supports homeless people. Additionally, for the past two years, Claudia has been assisting a Turkish refugee family in her neighborhood, offering support, visits, and German lessons to support their integration.

Claudia Radi
Peter Feld and Claudia Radi

Mrs. Gabrielle Alder
Export Coordinator
Zurich / Switzerland

Gabrielle exemplifies the value of retaining mothers in the workforce, showcasing exceptional efficiency while working at a 60% capacity. Her invaluable support during the SAP integration in 2018 played a crucial role in ensuring a smooth implementation, thanks to her unwavering commitment and passion.

As a volunteer helper at the Migration Office of the City of Zurich, Gabrielle has taken on the role of a ‘godmother’ to an Eritrean mother with five children. She dedicates her time to weekly meetings, providing support with daily inquiries, and offering language improvement opportunities to help the mother achieve her dream of securing employment. Additionally, she organizes outings for the entire family to enjoy.

When asked about her motivation for volunteering, Gabrielle reflects on the poverty and hardships she witnessed during her upbringing in Brazil. Recognizing her own privileged life, she is driven to give back and make a positive difference in the lives of others.

Gabrielle Alder
Peter Feld and Gabrielle Alder

Mr. Geert Schockaert
Maintenance Team leader Mechanics
Wieze / Belgium

Geert's journey at Callebaut began on 22 June 1981, when he joined as a mechanic at the age of 22, even before the company became Barry Callebaut. As an experienced ROT and team leader, Geert effectively leads and motivates his mechanics team to tackle current challenges and ensure the smooth operation and maintenance of couverture machinery.

In addition to his renowned expertise at Barry Callebaut, Geert actively contributes to the local judo association in Wieze. For over 40 years, he has been a trainer, inspiring youth to learn self-defense and build self-confidence in today's society.

Geert advocates for equal opportunities in sports, ensuring late bloomers, disabled individuals, and less gifted children receive the same support and guidance as their more advanced counterparts, irrespective of gender, race, or culture. He believes every child has the right to participate, have fun, and be treated with dignity, regardless of their potential to become champions. Geert is also an avid road cyclist who annually participates in "Kom op tegen Kanker"; a renowned Belgian charity organization that supports the fight against cancer.

Looking ahead to his retirement in November 2024, Geert eagerly anticipates spending time with his four grandchildren. His dream is to embark on a journey up north to witness the captivating northern lights and experience the thrill of sledding with huskies.

Geert Schockaert
Patrick De Maeseneire and Geert Schockaert

Mr. Gorrit Vercauteren
Teamlead IT Infrastructure Security
Wieze / Belgium

Gorrit excels as a team leader in the IT Security department, demonstrating exceptional organization, customer focus, and delivering outstanding services to the business. He plays a pivotal role in leading initiatives that align with our mid-term planning on Cyber Security.

Beyond his professional achievements, Gorrit has been a dedicated swimming coach since 1996 for a team called DIWI (Deelnemen is winnen), which supports individuals with physical disabilities. He firmly believes in the motto "mens sana in corpore sano" - a healthy mind in a healthy body. Gorrit recognizes the positive impact of sports on self-confidence and overall mental and psychological well-being.

Since 2000 Gorrit has been a member of the National Technical Swimming Commission for People with Disabilities which is part of the Belgian Paralympic Committee. In 2006, he served as the Sports Technical Director for the INAS Swimming World Championships held in Belgium. Additionally, he and his team organized the Belgian Paralympic Swimming Championships in both 2016 and 2018, showcasing his commitment to fostering inclusivity and promoting sports.

Gorrit Vercauteren
Peter Feld and Gorrit Vercauteren

Mrs. Joanna Pelka
Finance Manager, BP Group OSCO
Lodz / Poland

Joanna consistently surpasses expectations in ensuring the satisfaction of our internal customers and recently assisted with various projects. Exhibiting high ethical standards, Joanna always acts with honesty and integrity. She fearlessly advocates for others when she detects situations that seem not entirely correct to her.

During the initial influx of Ukrainian refugees, Joanna and her husband Marcin opened their home to provide emergency shelter. Marcin built beds for the children to ensure their comfort and since local government support was lacking, Joanna actively participated in collecting clothes, hygiene items, and essential medicines. She gathered clothes and toys for the families and provided mobile phones to help them stay connected with relatives and friends back home. She also introduced her well-trained German Shepherds, Loki and Nero, as therapy dogs to help with the fears and stress experienced by the children bringing back smiles. One family resided with Joanna and Marcin for three months. Together, they assisted the family in finding a flat, aided with furnishing it, and facilitated the enrolment of their child in a primary school.

Joanna Pelka
Patrick De Maeseneire and Joanna Pelka

Mrs. Kerri Greco
HR Manager
Dunmore / USA

Kerri is an enthusiastic advocate for employee morale, engagement, and retention at US44. She demonstrates exceptional entrepreneurial skills in sourcing qualified candidates and thinking outside the box for recruitment in a challenging labor market.

Her dedication to fostering a team spirit is evident in her efforts to reward and motivate our people, creating an atmosphere needed for business success. Kerri upholds the highest level of integrity and ensures accountability in people management, driven by her passion for helping individuals build lasting careers within our organization.

Kerri serves as a Board Member at the Women's Resource Center of NEPA, a nonprofit committed to ending domestic and sexual violence. She actively contributes to the HR Association within the organization, providing support in policy updates, employee issues, job descriptions, and benefit changes. She also serves on the board of the Cody Jude Barrasse Memorial Foundation, established in 2013 to honor Cody's memory and promote organ donor awareness. She leads the planning of the annual Continuing Cody's Commitment event, which attracts over 500 people and raises funds to support community members undergoing organ donation. It also provides a full scholarship each year to a deserving student at Scranton Prep School who embodies Cody's spirit of resilience and compassion.

Kerri Greco
Kerri Greco and Patrick De Maeseneire

Mrs. Patricia Evelyne Blah
Executive Secretary
Abidjan / Ivory Coast

As an Executive Assistant, Patricia excels in ensuring well-organized and guaranteed travel arrangements for African leadership team members and visitors to Africa. Her responsibilities include coordinating African leadership team meetings, recording minutes, proactively managing the vice president's agendas, scheduling recurring meetings, and seeking cost optimization opportunities for hotels and logistics providers. Patricia's expertise extends beyond her role, as she is highly respected among Zurich assistants who seek her assistance with visa applications for Africa.

As well as her professional commitments, Patricia is a member of FOMI (which means ‘together’), a support group for women with cancer. She actively participates in CAVA, an association dedicated to aiding women with breast cancer, contributing to their cause during ‘Pink October’ fundraising campaigns.

Patricia is an enthusiastic member of Cocoa Ladies, an initiative led by BC staff. Their efforts focus on raising funds to provide school kits to children from cocoa farming families. She also takes immense pride in being a mother to three children: two boys aged 18 and 11, and a 5-year-old girl.

Patricia Blah and Peter Feld

Congratulations also to the 2020 winners!

The winners from this year were joined by 2 winners of 2020 whose trip was postponed due to Covid-19.

  • Mr. Casey Johannesen - Chicago / USA
  • Mr. Luis Concepcion - Chicago / USA

Mr. Casey Johannesen
Commercial Analyst
Chicago / USA

In 2019, Casey was chosen as a One Young World ambassador alongside eight other BC employees. He remains actively engaged with them, driving local and global initiatives. In 2020, he was promoted to logistics analyst, taking on new responsibilities to foster growth in the cocoa sourcing department and the company.

Casey has been a Seeds For Change ambassador since 2019, leading site-wide initiatives. These include organizing a coat drive for a local homeless shelter and participating in a park clean-up for the City of Chicago. He is deeply involved in his community, volunteering as a mentor for at-risk youth through organizations like Big Brothers - Big Sisters and iMentor.

Passionate about the environment and combating climate change, Casey volunteers with Citizens’ Climate Lobby and the Climate Reality Project and actively advocates for climate-positive legislation. Recently, he started working as a pro bono consultant for Arnold Mugagga, whom he met at One Young World 2019. Arnold founded Zetu Africa and SeatPack, aiming to provide a classroom for 95 million underprivileged children in Africa.

In addition to his job and other commitments, Casey is pursuing a master's degree in economics. In 2022, he was unable to accept his award due to becoming a proud father. His son celebrated his first birthday in Zurich on June 27th.

Casey Johannesen
Casey Johannesen and Patrick De Maeseneire

Mr. Luis Concepcion
Lead Sales Ops Manager
Chicago / USA

Luis exemplifies BC's values as an ambassador for Seeds for Change and Forever Chocolate in Chicago. He embodies the spirit of volunteerism, readily offering to show new staff or visitors around the BC Employee Shop.

Recently, Luis led a successful winter clothing drive, earning nearly 100 pod points and collecting over 300 winter items for Alternatives, Inc., a non-profit in Chicago. This organization provides crucial support to underprivileged youth and their families, offering services in areas like violence and substance abuse prevention, academic enrichment, and counseling.

During his time at Barry Callebaut, Luis has consistently progressed in his career. He recently achieved a promotion from Master Data Administrator to Sales Operations Manager in Corporate Accounts. Despite his professional aspirations, he always prioritizes his family and takes pride in being the father of sons Marcelino and Santiago.

Luis's journey into Barry Callebaut was facilitated by his sister, Deborah, who has been a part of the company for 9 years. Known for his vibrant energy, Luis embraces life with enthusiasm, enjoying activities like karaoke, dancing, and embracing any opportunity for fun. He is a true force of nature within the organization.

Luis Concepcion
Luis Concepcion and Patrick De Maeseneire

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