Episode 348 – Steve Balliet talks about working for a purpose, from the bean to the bar, and transformational leadership

Leadership, Podcast

Steve Balliet is the Senior Manager of Hershey’s US Owned Retail in Hershey, PA.  In his role, Steve runs both Hershey’s Chocolate World locations, with one in Hershey, PA, and one in Times Square in New York.  Steve began his career at Dorney Park as a seasonal supervisor where he found his passion for the business, particularly in leadership.  Later, Steve took an opportunity to move to Hershey, where he has been for more than 20 years.  In this interview, Steve talks about working for a purpose, from the bean to the bar, and transformational leadership.

Working for a purpose

“When you think about Hershey, you think about fun, you think about chocolate, and you think about kids.”

The Milton Hershey School, founded in 1920 by Milton Hershey, is a boarding school for orphan boys.  Currently, the school serves thousands of underprivileged kids from all around the country from kindergarten through 12th grade.  The school is funded by the Hershey Company and Hershey Entertainment & Resorts in perpetuity.

For Hershey employees, whether they work in the theme park, hotel, factory, or any other business entity, they get to come to work every day knowing that their work serves even more than a profitable business, but that it truly goes to a cause that helps so many people in need.

From the bean to the bar

“Our stories are rooted in reality and authenticity.”

One of the most iconic aspects of Hershey’s Chocolate World is being able to take the factory tour, a dark ride that takes riders through the story of how chocolate is made.  Steve refers to it as being an immersive experience, as it brings guests into a compelling story that is both educational and entertaining.

The factory tour was part of Milton Hershey’s vision of being able to showcase how the product is made to demonstrate the high-quality standard that goes into each and every piece of candy.  In the 1970s, the popularity of the tour prompted the creation of Hershey’s Chocolate World to create the tour as a standalone experience.  Over time, the ride has been updated to reflect continual changes to the story; however, the original track layout and ride system remains unchanged.

Transformational leadership

“My day exists to make my team look good.”

Steve refers to himself as a transformational leader and is passionate about developing the individuals in the teams that he supports.  Steve defines transformational leadership as taking complex ideas and making them simple so they can be understood and implemented with ease.

Transformational leadership also incorporates continuous improvement.  Steve stresses the importance of failing fast and learning from mistakes in the interest of growth and continual development.  Steve says that you should strive to make the guest experience a little better than the day before.


To learn about Hershey’s Chocolate World, visit www.chocolateworld.com.  To connect with Steve directly, you can email him at sballiet@hersheys.com.

This podcast wouldn’t be possible without the incredible work of our faaaaaantastic team:

  • Scheduling and correspondence by Kristen Karaliunas
  • Audio and video editing by Abby Giganan

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