Executive Profiles

Joel Burrows Headshot

Joel Burrows

Chief Executive Officer

Joel Burrows is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company and is responsible for Ghirardelli's day-to-day operations as well as the Company overall strategy and direction. Joel was appointed to this position in 2017. Prior to coming to Ghirardelli, Joel was most recently CEO at Lindt UK &Ireland, Ghirardelli's sister company. He began his Lindt career as UK Sales Director in 2007. Joel has been responsible for continuously growing market share and brand equity, while also focusing on the people who are critical to the success of the brand. He holds a Master's degree in Economics from The University of Edinburgh. Joel enjoys participating in sports and outdoor activity challanges that benefit charitable organizations, including cycling the length of the UK, participating in a 50k walk, and climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. Joel is married, with two young children, and the entire family looks forward to all the new experiences that California offers.


Samuel J Bernegger Headshot

Samuel J. Bernegger

Vice President of Operations

Sam joined Ghirardelli in 2013 as Director of Production in Operations and started with its parent company, Lindt & Sprüngli in Switzerland. Sam began at Lindt & Sprüngli as a Unit Manager in Production in 2007. Sam's experience includes Packaging and Chocolate Moulding and Sam led off the first Lean Manufacturing projects in the organization. Sam started his career as a Junior Controller in the aerospace industry, and moved to Aldi Suisse in Retail Operations before joining Lindt & Sprüngli. Sam holds a Master of Science in Industrial Management and Manufacturing and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, both from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich. In his spare time, Sam loves to cook, and enjoys traveling with his family to exotic places and experiencing different cultures and people.


Chris Eklem Headshot

Chris Eklem

Vice President of Professional Products Division

In this role, Chris is responsible for leading the sales, marketing, product innovation and overall management of PPD. The PPD organization has its own unique set of Ghirardelli products that are used by foodservice professionals as ingredients to make delicious desserts and beverages. Chris is a member of the Ghirardelli Management Team responsible for the company's strategic direction. Chris started working at Ghirardelli in 2003 and was promoted January 2005 to lead the company's foodservice business. Since that time, he has provided the vision, drive and leadership to rapidly build the PPD business into a very important and thriving division of the company. Chris received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Oregon and his Master of Business Administration degree from Pepperdine University. Chris and his wife met in college. They have a son and a daughter. In his spare time, Chris enjoys sports, traveling and exploring National Parks with his family.


Rob Budowski Headshot

Rob Budowski

Vice President of Sales

Rob joined the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company on June 1, 2011, as Vice President of Sales responsible for confection and baking products for retail partners across the United States along with the Travel Retail and Export divisions internationally. Trade Marketing, Category Management and the Customer Sales groups fall within this portfolio. Rob is also a member of the Management Team responsible for top-line strategic direction. Prior to joining the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, Rob worked with Lindt & Sprüngli (Canada), Inc. from 1995 until 2011 holding senior Sales positions with his last posting as Vice President of Sales. The 10 years prior to that were from the University of Manitoba, Canada, with a bachelor or arts degree in 1986.


Steve Genzoli Headshot

Steve Genzoli

Vice President of Quality Assurance/Research & Development

In this role, Steve is responsible for the overall product quality, research and development, packaging engineering and consumer response functions for the company. Steve joined Ghirardelli in 1997 and has helped guide the strategic growth of the company for the past 16 years. Prior to joining Ghirardelli, Steve spent 8 years with Nestle Chocolate where he held roles in Operations Management and Technical Services and 3 years with Fuji Vegetable Oil where he served as the Technical Marketing Manager. Steve received his Bachelor of Science in Food Science from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California. Steve is an active member of the Pennsylvania Manufacturing Confectioners Association, serving as a Board Member, the National Confectioners Association where he is a member of the Chocolate Council, and lastly he serves on the Executive Board of the World Cocoa Foundation where is a past Vice Chairman. Steve and his wife celebrated their 25th anniversary in 2013 and have 3 children. In his spare time, he watches every sporting event his kids take part in and farms 20 acres of almonds.


Manuele Fabbiane Headshot

Manuele Fabbiane

Chief Financial Officer

Manuele is Chief Financial Officer of the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. In this role, Manuele is responsible for oversight of the finance and accounting, information technology, procurement and legal functions. He joined Ghirardelli in 2017. Prior to coming to Ghirardelli, he was with the Lindt group since 2011 in Sydney, as Chief Financial Officer of the Australian subsidiary. Before joining the Lindt Group, Manuele started his career in the Ferrero Group where he spent more than a decade in different finance functions in Luxembourg, Mexico and Germany. In 2000, Manuele graduated from the University of Verona, Italy and holds a bachelor's degree in Economics and Commerce, awarded with high distinction. In his spare time, Manuele enjoys running, skiing and traveling with his wife and two daughters.


Raffael Payer Headshot

Raffael Payer

Vice President of Marketing

In this role, Raffael is responsible for building the Ghirardelli brand, steering the overall marketing strategy and delivering overall business objectives. This includes brand positioning, advertising, consumer promotions, new product development, packaging design, media planning, digital marketing and consumer and market insight. He joined Ghirardelli in 2019. Prior to coming to Ghirardelli, he was the Marketing Director for Lindt & Spr√ľngli Russia, based in Moscow. Before joining the Lindt Group, Raffael held various marketing positions at Mars in Switzerland. Raffael received his Bachelor of Art, Business Administration & his Masters of Art, Strategy & International Management from the University of St. Gallen.