President and CEO
Seattle Chocolate Co.
Jean Thompson is many things: mother, marketer, entrepreneur, and chocolate lover. But the common thread in all parts of her life is her desire to learn more, innovate faster, and solve complex problems.
A native New Englander, Jean graduated from Bates College before embarking on a career in high tech. As a marketer in corporate Microsoft, she sought to solve the problem of how to get people to understand and buy more Microsoft products. After years promoting Windows, Office and other programming languages, Thompson moved on to her next vocation: motherhood.
She became as engaged in raising her two children as in marketing software and for the next 12 years nurtured two smart and creative human beings: Ellie (20) and Danny (26). Little did she know that becoming a chocolate entrepreneur would be her next career move.
“I had invested in Seattle Chocolate, and due to an earthquake, senior management changes and a few other business challenges, the company was left floundering and without leadership,” she explains. “To protect our family’s investment, I decided to step in and see how fast I could turn things around.”
The turn-around she hoped for in one year took nine; but doggedness pays off and today, Seattle Chocolate is growing and thriving. In the process, Jean grew from marketer to business visionary, and from chocolate eater to chocolate maven.
Business acumen came slowly but surely; marketing smarts were already there. What Jean took to like a fish to water was coming up with flavors, packaging and forms that made Seattle Chocolate stand out. Under her leadership, the company was named Seattle Business’s 2015 “Washington Manufacturer of the Year.”
Beyond success for Seattle Chocolate, Jean is passionate about furthering the chocolate industry as a whole, encouraging young women to enter the executive field, and fighting hunger in America by giving back to local communities.
She also served on the National Confectioner’s Association (NCA) Board and on the Confectionery Foundation Board, the philanthropic arm of the trade organization.