Michele Hennessey, Product Development

Michele Hennessey

Michele Hennessey
Director of Product Development
Round Table Pizza

Michele, pronounced (Mee She eeL*) has been working for Round Table Pizza for 13 years. She was born in Minnesota but raised in Kentucky, in the heart of the blue grass. Michele has a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics, from the University of Kentucky.


Michele’s mother was a nurse, her older brother in medical school and she thought she wanted to go into medical research. Because she felt the physical sciences didn’t suit her she decided to pursue a career in home economics. Michele says she loves the science of food.

Michele’s education prepared her for her first job after college which was with the Pillsbury Company in Minnesota where she did recipe development. She said “when I was in school courses taken in college did not really prepare one for the business world,” so during her first few work years she learned the economics of the business world.

After working for Pillsbury, Michele worked for a number of food companies (Pizza Hut when they were located in Kansas , International Multifoods, Minnesota , Shakey’s Pizza, in Denver , Dallas , and San Francisco and Pet Foods Inc located in St. Louis.) Michele gained a variety of experience to prepare her for her current position of Director of Product Development at Round Table Pizza.

The job of Product Development varies at different companies. At Round Table Pizza Michele is in charge of any new product the company is developing or wants to develop. For example designing the pizza’s you might see in their TV commercials. This involves knowing where the ingredients come from, and sometimes having outside companies develop ingredients for Round Table in order to bring the product to market.  A good example might be a sauce. Michele might work with a company’s research and development department to come up with a sauce that meets Round Tables specifications for a particular pizza/product. She also works with purchasing to see how best to distribute the product to the restaurants. In addition she must make sure the quality of the product is safe and operations. In other words can the restaurants/stores make it and provide Round Table customers with a good experience. Plus Michele has to manage costs, visit test markets and do some training.

More emphasis on a healthy and good tasting product is one of the newest developments in the field. Right now Michele is working on the re-launch of their popular Pepperoni Artisan Pizza, which is a lighter, more intense flavored pizza.

An enjoyable aspect of Michele’s job is attending all the product shoots for stills and TV commercials.  She oversees the making of the products to make sure the products shown in the TV commercials are representative of the products that are sold in their restaurants. She also enjoys seeing products come to market that she was responsible and working with creative people and learning something new everyday.

The biggest work related challenges are quality control, costs, innovation, and staying ahead of the competition.

She thinks the keys to success in her field are honesty, integrity, enjoying working with others and knowing your limitations.

In her spare time Michele loves tennis, theatre, light opera, cooking, and learning about wine. Michele collects cookbooks and has 200+.
*Gallic pronunciation of Michele.