Dr. Maria Velissariou

Dr. Velissariou is a Fortune 100 Research and Development executive with exceptional diverse global experience driving vision and strategy, innovation, and advocacy across the value chain in high-impact corporate and non-profit organizations.

Managing Director

Throughout her career, she has been strategically focused on translating science and technology opportunities into scalable innovation solutions. She specializes in guiding ambidextrous organizations and is motivated by business value creation combined with human, societal and environmental outcomes.

Previously, Dr. Velissariou served as the Global Corporate R&D Vice President and Chief Science Officer for Mars. She led the function’s enterprise-wide approach to Quality and Food Safety, Digitalization, Scientific Regulatory Affairs, and delivery of Mars’ R&D and Science agenda in partnership with the business segments. She equipped the R&D function with new digital capabilities to unlock deeper insights and agility to drive innovation, efficiencies, and future-proof the business at scale. She also expanded collaborations with the USA FDA and UN agencies like the World Food Programme (FWP).

Before Mars, Dr. Velissariou held several senior leadership positions including Chief Science and Technology Officer at the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), and VP Global Nutrition R&D and VP Quaker Foods North America R&D at PepsiCo. Additionally, she served in various roles at Kraft Foods in Europe and USA and Dow Corning Europe.

Dr. Velissariou served on the board of directors of the Chicago Council for Science and Technology (C2ST), was a member of the Advisory Council at the Women Business Collaborative (WBC) and is a founding member of the 2Blades Sustainability Council. She serves as Member of the Board of Advisors of Solmeyea (Greece) and Don’t Worry (Mexico). She is affiliated with Endeavor Global as Mentor and is a Steering Committee member of the Nourish Movement. Dr. Velissariou is a long-term advocate for increasing diversity in STEM.

Dr. Velissariou received a Ph.D. and M.S. in Biochemical Engineering from the University of Birmingham (UK), and a B.E. in Chemical Engineering from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece). She completed the Economics of Mutuality Executive Education at Oxford University and received certifications in Executive Leadership, High-Performance Leadership, and Digital Leadership from Cornell University. She has presented at various global conferences and featured in diverse media including the U.S. FDA TechTalk Podcast, Wall Street Journal, Axios, AI Magazine and Food Manufacturing.

Dr. Velissariou is a native of Greece and holds USA and UK citizenship. She currently lives in Washington D.C.