Wawa President and CEO Chris Gheysens knows how to capture the attention of college students.
“He rolled up 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 definitely appreciate that coffee.”
The red and white Wawa truck served snacks for two hours followed by a talk by Gheysens to Rohrer College of Business (RCB) students and a question-and-answer session.
Gheysens shared information about Wawa, the business world and his own experiences.
“As a college student speaking to a CEO, especially one who is so close to home, it’s nice to be able to be able to ask the question: How did you get to where you are today?” Berlenbach said.
Berlenbach, of Egg Harbor Township, said he gained great insight into Wawa’s detailed system of planning, which impacts everything from how much sauce to add to its new pizza to the placement of electric vehicle charging stations in parking lots.
Bryan Emery ’23, a marketing and management major from Hightstown, appreciated Gheysens’ in-depth 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 perspective and from a CEO perspective definitely helped me,” Emery said.
“The most valuable advice he gave is extremely important to remember while on the job hunt: Work for a company that aligns with your core values,” said Sarah Moschini, ’22, a dual management and finance major from Southampton who starts a position with Goldman Sachs in June. “Having a mentor (like Gheysens) as I start my career will be beneficial, and I am glad I was able to hear his advice prior to my start date.”
Growing up in Vineland, Gheysens has deep area roots. 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 April 5, served as Wawa’s chief financial and administrative officer before becoming president and CEO in 2013. Previously he worked for Deloitte and Touché LLP in Philadelphia.
The event was the latest in a series of RCB conversations with C-suite executives.
“Wawa is such a strong brand, and Chris Gheysens has an accounting background, which is such a strong major here,” said Elisabeth Parker, employer relations associate in the RCB’s Center for Professional Development (RCPD). “We thought his career path would resonate well with our students, so we reached out to Chris and his team was so willing to donate their time, energy and food.”
“Chris was very generous,” agreed Amie Ryno, RCPD manager. “The biggest take away for me was Wawa’s people-centered culture and that their CEO leads by example.”