Features

Jorge Barroso – The Hershey Company

Hershey sweetens the deal in Amplify integration

W hen Amplify Snack Brands was acquired by Hershey in early 2018, the company’s IT team began integrating with the candy giant’s systems and infrastructure. When this was completed in January 2020, the team had no idea how fortuitous its timing was.

“It worked out perfectly for the pandemic,” IT Director Jorge Barroso says. “We were isolated from Hershey before, so the timing was great and  allowed us to be better connected with each other and Hershey.”

The Amplify Snack Brands name has since dissolved, and the company is one with Hershey. Its products—the popcorn and chips brands Pirate’s Booty, Skinny Pop and Paqui—are now part of Hershey’s salty snacks division. According to Barroso, those brands can now expand with the resources of a much larger and established company.

He joined the company nine months after Hershey acquired Amplify when the integration was still underway. While some systems were retained, most of Amplify’s operations moved to the Hershey IT network infrastructure, including service desk and collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams. This improved communication when  employees began working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, he says.

“The goal is to make things more cohesive and ensure the team that came from Amplify has the same best practices as Hershey from an IT perspective,” Barroso says. “It’s been a foundational element for us as we continue to mature the organization.”

Transformative change

One of the biggest upgrades has been migrating to a more robust electronic data interchange platform, which Barroso says has improved communication and made it easier to share documents. He’ s also outsourcing how new systems are built and supported rather than having his team build them  in house.

“We’re fortunate to work with great vendors who are very collaborative and responsive,” he says. “I know I can call on them when I need help with an app or a system.”

Barroso says this allows him and his team to focus more on new projects and upgrades and less on troubleshooting IT issues. For example, the team recently upgraded its enterprise resource planning system to automate invoicing, which means employees no longer need to make calls to begin invoicing.

With large scale changes like these, Barroso and his team work closely with Hershey’s transformation business team. The team leads big changes in the company to help employees learn and transition.

“The biggest challenge often isn’t the technology—it’s the change management,” he says. “We want to make it as easy as possible for people to use the systems they need every day.”

The transformation business team also works to find more ways to integrate the former Amplify operations with Hershey. For example, Barroso says  using Hershey’s information system infrastructure services has reduced tech expenses and simplified operations for his team.

“We don’t want to reinvent the wheel, but their practices have been shown to be more efficient, so we want to work smarter and align ourselves with them and follow their lead,” Barroso says. “If we create a strong foundation, then we can look into new ways of doings things.”

International experience

Barroso has seen many changes in the technology industry throughout his career, which began after he earned a bachelor’s degree in cybernetic engineering from Universidad La Salle in his hometown of Mexico City in 1989.

After a few years as IT manager at a packaging company in Mexico, he joined Dell Technologies, where he stayed for 15 years. Two years into his tenure with the company, he was transferred to the U.S. Over the next 13 years, he held a variety of roles, directing IT operations all over the world.

With Dell, Barroso often traveled to Australia and Japan, opened a call center in Malaysia, lived and worked in the U.K. for several months and opened offices, call centers and manufacturing centers throughout Latin America, as well as in India. The experience piqued his interest in international work and travel, so in 2007, he became vice president of IT international for Laureate Education Inc., a global network of higher education institutions.

After five years, Barroso started working as CIO at the Council on International Education  Exchange in Maine. After struggling to adjust to the New England climate, he moved with his family to Texas in 2015 and has stayed there. Barroso spent a couple years working as an independent consultant, before becoming CIO at Trade Management Solutions, an international third-party logistics provider.

But, in 2018, he decided he wanted to spend less time traveling for work and more time at home with his family—he and his wife have two young daughters. In September of that year, he joined Amplify.

“It’s different from anything I’ve done before, but there’s a lot to do,” Barroso says. “It’s a startup, so that has its challenges, and integrating with Hershey, a more mature company, has been very exciting and interesting.”

View this feature in the Spring I 2023 Edition here.

Published on: February 7, 2023

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