Executive Leadership

Yvo Smit

Vice President of Restaurant & Retail

After graduating with a master’s in public administration and some time as a logistics officer in the Dutch navy, Yvo decided to see something of the world and ended up in the USA. Yvo’s strong belief that “the only things you will regret in life are the things you did not do” might explain why he started his career selling chewing gum out of the trunk of a car in New Hampshire, while barely speaking English. Several years and cities later, after finishing his MBA at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Yvo relocated to San Francisco where he worked for McKinsey & Company and Clorox, before ending up at Ghirardelli Chocolate 8 years ago.

At Ghirardelli, Yvo is responsible for the Restaurant and Retail division which employs over 700 colleagues and provides our guests with stores where they can experience our brand and chocolate in all senses. Since retail is all about detail and delivering great guests experiences, you are very unlikely to find Yvo in his office. You will find him in stores (hot chocolate in hand) interacting with our guests and colleagues who, by the way, make or break our business.

Yvo’s talent to engage colleagues at every level of the organization has created a loyal and high-performing Restaurant and Retail team. People and ‘winning’ are what gets Yvo up in the morning. No day will go by without him encouraging quality, action to achieve goals, and innovation by creating test and learn situations. Decision making based on data and a positive can do attitude are key elements exhibited by the colleagues in his division. As a strong supporter of the local community, Yvo and his team organize the yearly chocolate festival at Ghirardelli Square, which attracts over 50,000 visitors with proceeds going to Project Open Hand, a San Francisco-based cause.


About Ghirardelli

The Ghirardelli Chocolate Company is a manufacturer and marketer of premium chocolate products.

Incorporated in 1852 and in continuous operation ...