Undergraduate Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipient Ron Shaich '76
Thirty years ago, Ron Shaich set out to change the world by changing the way America eats. By founding not one, but two, successful restaurant concepts (Au Bon Pain and Panera Bread), Shaich shook up the industry by offering an antithesis to fast food — handmade, artisan food served in warm and welcoming environments by people you can trust. Today, Panera Bread serves over eight million people each week, employs over 80,000 associates and is a leader in the restaurant space. The Company is ranked number five in the foodservice category on Fortune's "World's Most Admired Companies" list.
Today, Shaich directs a range of innovation and strategic initiatives for Panera Bread as the Company's Chairman and CEO. Having made his name as an entrepreneur who grew his business into a national chain of nearly 1,800 bakery cafes in 40 states and Canada with a $5 billion market cap, Shaich remains focused on building a company of quality over the long term.
Shaich was awarded the 2011 MUFSO Pioneer Award for being one of the most significant contributors to the history of the foodservice industry. Past winners have included Colonel Harland Sanders, Ray Kroc, Norman Brinker and J. Willard Marriott, Sr. He was awarded IFM's Gold Plate Award for being the outstanding leader in the industry in 2005. As well, he has twice received the Nation's Restaurant News Golden Chain Award, which is given to figures who exemplify success and leadership in food service.
Shaich has also been a national finalist for Ernst & Youn's Entrepreneur of the Year. The Company and Shaich's innovative management style have been featured in Fortune, Forbes, Inc., Fast Company, The Economist, TIME, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, on NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News and ABC World News Tonight and in several books. As well, Shaich frequently represents Panera Bread on CNBC, Bloomberg, CNN and Fox News Channel.
Shaich serves as President of the Panera Bread Foundation and spearheaded the Panera Cares initiative, through which the Foundation creates nonprofit community cafes aimed at addressing issues related to food insecurity. He is a member of the Boards of Directors of the Lown Cardiovascular Research Foundation and the Massachusetts Financial Literacy Trust Fund. Shaich formerly served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Clark University and on the Board of the Rashi School. He is also a co-founder of No Labels, an organization concerned with political problem solving.
Shaich received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Clark University and a Master's Degree in Business Administration from Harvard Business School. He resides in Brookline, MA with his wife, Nancy, and children, Michael and Emma.