International Chocolate Day—Meet Giovanni Ferrero H’22

Giovanni Ferrero H’22, entrepreneur and executive chair of the Ferrero Group poses during LVC's 2022 Commencement weekend.

Giovanni Ferrero H’22, entrepreneur and executive chair of the Ferrero Group—maker of everything from Nutella and Baby Ruth to Keebler and Famous Amos cookies—studied marketing at Lebanon Valley College in 1980 and received an honorary doctorate from The Valley during the 2022 Commencement ceremony.  

Born in Turin, Italy, Giovanni spent his early years in Italy. He then moved to Brussels, Belgium, with his family, where he attended the European School. In 1980, he made the move across the ocean to Lebanon Valley College, where he spent six months studying with legendary professors Dr. Jim Scott, professor emeritus of German; and the late Glenn H. Woods ’51, professor emeritus of English.  

After his studies, he returned to Europe to begin his professional career in Ferrero, first in the marketing department in Germany; then in 1992, he laid the foundations of Ferrero’s business outside of Europe as the head of Ferrero Overseas. After this expansion success, he became the CEO of Ferrero International in 1997, a role that he held until 2017 when he stepped down as CEO to take on the role of Executive Chairman of the Ferrero Group to focus on corporate strategy. 

Under Giovanni’s leadership, the company has made several important acquisitions, starting with the UK chocolate confectionary Thorntons in 2015, the Belgian fine biscuits company Delacre in 2016, the American Candy manufacturer Ferrara in 2017, one of the largest acquisitions for the Group, the Nestlé’s US confectionary business in 2018, but also the famous Danish butter cookies Kelsen in 2019 as well as the cookies Keebler, Famous Amos, and others. More recently he expanded the Group’s presence in the biscuits market acquiring two British biscuits makers, Fox’s Biscuits (2020) and Burton’s Biscuits (2021). He eventually entered in the healthy products market acquiring the UK leading bar producer Eat Natural, also in 2021. 

He continues to build on his grandparents’ legacy to lead a successful global business committed to social responsibility and sustainability.   

In addition to running the family business, Giovanni is also a writer. He has published eight books, one of which is dedicated to marketing (Marketing Project 2000) while the others are novels focused on humanitarian and social issues (Stelle di tenebra [Stars of darkness] in 1999, Il giardino di Adamo [Adam’s garden] in 2003, Il Camaleonte [The Chameleon] in 2005, Campo Paradiso [Paradise Camp] in 2007, Il canto delle farfalle [Butterflies’ chanting] in 2010, Il cacciatore di luce [The light hunter] in 2015) and more recently Blu di Prussia e Rosso Porpora [Prussian Blue and Purple Red] in 2021). 

He has received numerous national and international business awards during his career, including the Special Achievement Award in International Business from the National Italian American Foundation. In October 2015, he was awarded an honorary master’s degree in Food Science and Technology by the University of Parma “for creating an example of multinational business management in the food sector that has few peers in Italy in terms of complexity and strategic vision; and for his vivacity and innovation at the head of a Group that is a paradigm of sustainable development and of an original model of value capitalism.” 

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