Hershey's announces new senior VP, general counsel and secretary
The Hershey Company announced that Damien Atkins has been named senior vice president, general counsel and secretary, effective August 13.
In his new role, Atkins will lead Hershey’s legal, government relations, and corporate secretary functions. He will report directly to Michele Buck, president and chief executive officer. He also will serve as a member of the company’s executive committee, a team of the company’s most senior leaders.
“Damien is a thoughtful and inspiring leader who has a strong record of success throughout his legal career,” said Buck. “He is business-focused and knows how a legal function can support a company’s strategic objectives and positively impact business results. He will be a terrific addition to our executive team.”
Atkins brings 20 years of legal experience to his new role at Hershey. Most recently, he was general counsel and corporate secretary for Panasonic Corporation of North America. As general counsel for Panasonic NA, Damien managed the company’s full litigation portfolio, including commercial litigation, and led global legal teams in several multijurisdictional Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and antitrust investigations, lawsuits and claims. He led a global legal team in the US $1 billion acquisition of the Hussmann Corporation in 2016. He also redesigned the company’s global compliance program, significantly increasing employee engagement.
“I am excited to join a company with such iconic brands and a deep sense of purpose and social responsibility embedded in its commercial operations,” said Atkins. “Hershey has a strong leadership team and is on an exciting journey to grow its business as a snacking powerhouse. I look forward to playing a role in supporting that growth story and being part of Hershey’s long-term success.”
Before Panasonic, Atkins was Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, Corporate and Chief Compliance Officer AOL, Inc., working for a total of nine years at AOL and leading a range of legal matters for the company, including Mergers & Acquisitions, corporate and real estate legal matters, leading a team that managed AOL’s spin‐off from Time Warner.
Atkins began his legal career in 1998 as a corporate associate at Chadbourne & Parke (now known as Norton Rose), a highly respected international law firm.
Atkins serves on the Board of Directors for the Minority Corporate Counsel Association; Habitat for Humanity, Newark; Rutgers Law School Center for Corporate Law and Governance; and is Vice-Chair for the Institute for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers Business School. He was also named General Counsel of the Year in 2016 by the New Jersey Business Journal, Corporate Counsel of the Year in 2017 by the Metropolitan Black Bar Association, and Diverse Attorney of the Year in 2015 by the New Jersey Law Journal.
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