Fast 15: Bethany Freeman

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Bethany Freeman said she doesn’t really have a sweet tooth for chocolate.

But as the world’s most famous chocolate company has learned, liking the merchandise isn’t a prerequisite for moving the merchandise.

Freeman monitors and reports on The Hershey Co.’s multimillion-dollar seasonal — Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter — candy performance at Walmart.

A Bentonville native, she has been with the company in a variety of roles for five years, interning at the Bentonville office during her last two years as an undergraduate at the University of Arkansas.

She earned a marketing degree in 2010 — graduating as the outstanding marketing student in her class — and also was president of the Chi Omega women’s fraternity during her senior year.

Freeman then transitioned to a graduate assistantship with Hershey while completing her MBA in Fayetteville. She earned the degree in May 2012 — again with the distinction of outstanding student of the year.

In the GA role, Freeman made recommendations about how much shelf space should be given to different Hershey products within the candy aisle at Walmart. The modular flow suggestions were implemented to the $2 billion category, resulting in 2.3 percent revenue growth.

“That was really exciting,” she said. “It’s crazy to go in to any Walmart in the nation and see something that I recommended.”

The initiative led to a promotion for Freeman, who began as a category consultant six months prior to finishing the MBA program.

“From January through April [2012], I was a full-time Hershey employee and a full-time MBA student,” she said.

Freeman, the oldest of four siblings and an accomplished swimmer in high school, serves on the MBA Alumni Board at the UA and volunteers with the Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter.

She also enjoys being a Sunday school teacher for third-grade girls and cell group leader for Bentonville High seniors at her church.

“I love giving back,” she said. “I don’t know what community it’s going to be, but that is always going to be part of what I look for.”