Wawa’s President and CEO, Chris Gheysens, knows how to capture students’ attention.
“He took off in style with the Wawa truck offering soft pretzels, hot chocolate and coffee,” said marketing major Maksim Berlenbach. “Especially towards the end of the semester, we really enjoy this cafe.”
The red and white Wawa truck served snacks for two hours followed by a lecture by Gheysens at Rohrer College of Commerce (RCB) and a question-and-answer session.
Gheysens shared information about Wawa, the business world and his own experiences.
“As a student talking to a CEO, especially a CEO so close to home, it’s nice to be able to ask the question: How did you get to where you are today? said Berlenbach.
Berlenbach, of Egg Harbor Township, said he learned a great deal about Wawa’s detailed planning system, which impacts everything from how much sauce to add to his new pizza to where to place the charging stations for electric vehicles in car parks.
Bryan Emery ’23, a marketing and management student from Hightstown, enjoyed Gheysens’ detailed answers and step-by-step explanation of the courses he took, the skills he learned, and how students should incorporate them into daily life.
“Telling us his story from a student’s perspective and from a CEO’s perspective definitely helped me,” Emery said.
“The most valuable advice he gave is extremely important to remember when looking for a job: work for a company that aligns with your core values,” said Sarah Moschini, 22, a double major in management and finance from Southampton who begins a role with Goldman Sachs in June. “Having a mentor (like Gheysens) early in my career will be beneficial, and I’m glad I got to hear his advice before my start date.”
Growing up in Vineland, Gheysens has deep roots in the region. A graduate of St. Augustine Preparatory School in Richland, he earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Villanova University School of Business, an MBA from Saint Joseph’s University, and was a certified public accountant in New Jersey.
Gheysens, who appeared at the RCB on April 5, served as Wawa’s chief financial and administrative officer before becoming chairman and chief executive in 2013. He previously worked for Deloitte and Touché LLP in Philadelphia.
The event was the latest in a series of RCB conversations with senior executives.
“Wawa is such a strong brand, and Chris Gheysens has a background in accounting, which is such a strong specialty here,” said Elisabeth Parker, employer relations associate at RCB’s Center for Professional Development (RCPD). “We thought his career path would resonate with our students, so we reached out to Chris and his team who were so willing to donate their time, energy and food.”
“Chris has been very generous,” admitted Amie Ryno, head of the RCPD. “The biggest benefit for me was Wawa’s people-centric culture and having their CEO lead by example.”