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Starbucks former-CEO Howard Schultz.

People moves: Aerofarms shuffle continues, Howard Schultz & Starbucks part ways, Regrow Ag enlists MongoDB vet

October 16, 2023

Stay up to speed with the latest people moves in agrifood and tech with AgFunderNews’ monthly column of the industry’s biggest leadership changes. This month, AeroFarms CMO steps down shortly after the company emerges from bankruptcy, agtech startup Regrow welcomes a new CTO and Starbucks’ former boss says goodbye.

Are you in a new role or company? Know someone who has left? Drop me a line to share the details: [email protected].

AeroFarms CMO steps down

In the latest shakeup at vertical farming company AeroFarms, cofounder Marc Oshima is stepping down as CMO.

Oshima, who co-founded the company, wrote on LinkedIn that he is “proud of the work” AeroFarms has done over the years to “help advance the overall industry.” He hasn’t yet said where he’s next headed.

AeroFarms has gone through a turbulent year that’s included filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, closing up its New Jersey facility and, recently, emerging from bankruptcy to focus solely on commercial production at its Virginia farm. The company says it is nearing profitability at that farm.

Oshima’s departure follows that of cofounder and CEO David Rosenberg, who left the company around the time of the bankruptcy filing.

Howard Schultz resigns from Starbucks board

Starbucks longtime on-again, off-again CEO Howard Schultz has resigned from the board of the coffee giant.

The resignation comes not long after he stepped down from his third stint as the company’s CEO earlier this year.

Food Dive reports that Schultz recently faced off with Starbucks Workers United Members around alleged unfair labor practices; Schultz denied that Starbucks violated any labor laws. Even so, Starbucks Workers United Members “celebrated his departure as a chance for the company to alter the strategy it has used against the union.”

Starbucks said there would be “little to no impact to fundamentals” as a result of Schultz leaving the board, though he may take the brand’s “magic touch” with him on the way out.

As for Schultz, he’s said he plans to spend his retirement on “philanthropic ventures.”

Regrow hires MongoDB vet as CTO

Sustainable agtech startup Regrow welcomed a new CTO this past month with the hire of Dan Pasette.

Tech is a critical part of Regrow’s offerings for farmers, producer and CPGs. Pasette will guide the roadmap for this, helping to ensure that IT investments fit within the Regrow Ag mission of helping companies along the food supply chain farm more sustainably.

Pasette brings more than two decades of tech and engineering experience to the Regrow table, including 11 years at data developer platform MongoDB.

“One year ago, I set my sights on finding a way to apply my tech world experience towards addressing climate change. I think I’ve found the perfect fit here at Regrow Ag,” Pasette wrote on LinkedIn.

More people moves

🍫 Deepak Bhatia becomes the first CTO of Hershey’s, joins the company’s executive committee. Bhatia will lead the company’s global technology strategy with an eye to analytics and automation.

🥬 Western Growers hires Joelle Mosso as associate vice president, science programs. Mosso joins from the Organic Trade Association, where she served as senior director of technical and regulatory affairs.

🛒 Sequoia Capital partner Ravi Gupta joins Instacart‘s board of directors. Gupta has served as the company’s CFO and COO in the past.

🥩 Cultivated meat company Omeat promoted Pavle Stojkovic to chief strategy officer. Stojkovic previously served as the company’s chief people officer and will focus on Omeat’s commercialization process.

🥃 Diageo appoints Sally Grimes as chief executive officer of Diageo North America. The CPG has also named Claudia Schubert president and chief operating officer of Diageo North America.

🐂 Kevin Burkum assumes CEO role at U.S. Farmers & Ranchers in Action. Burkum, a longtime advocate for US agriculture, will help the organization address “critical issues facing U.S. agriculture.”

🥦 United Natural Foods appoints Mario Maffie as new CIO. Maffie joins the company after 24 years at Mars, where his most recent role was CIO.

🧫 Seán Leighton becomes new Institute of Food Technologists board president. Leighton has been an IFT participant since 1999 and served several roles at the nonprofit.

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