Cannabis Career Watch | New Hires and Promotions September 11, 2020

Aurora, CannaCraft, Ignite, Proven Media, Schwazze, Cronos make executive changes; Folium Biosciences, Schwazze make changes to board.

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Image: Creative mindman / Shutterstock.com

Canada-based Aurora Cannabis promoted Chief Commercial Officer Miguel Martin to the role of chief executive officer, replacing interim CEO Michael Singer. Martin joined Aurora from Reliva in July 2020. He has served in executive roles at several consumer packaged goods companies including Logic Technology and Altria Sales & Distribution.

“In his short time at Aurora, Miguel has demonstrated decisive leadership,” said Singer. “Miguel is a highly experienced executive with an exceptional track record of performance in a number of consumer products categories. After an extensive search which included evaluation of many highly respected candidates, Miguel stood apart with both strong commercial and cannabinoid sector expertise, as well as his passion for Aurora’s success. The Aurora board and I firmly believe that under Miguel’s leadership, Aurora’s strategic direction going forward will be characterized by leading market performance, sustainable growth, profitability, and value creation for shareholders.”

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Manufacturing company CannaCraft appointed two new executives to its team: Chief Marketing Officer Angela Pih and Vice President of Sales Ron Gray. Both join the company from Papa & Barkley where Pih served as CMO and Gray served as senior VP of Sales.

“We are excited to welcome Angela and Ron to the team,” said CannaCraft Chief Executive Officer Jim Hourigan. “Cannabis is a rapidly evolving industry and it is imperative that we add new skills and capabilities to our management team to remain competitive as we enter the next phase of growth. Angela and Ron’s experience in cannabis and consumer goods will be instrumental as we continue to grow our wellness and recreational brands.”


Cannabis public relations firm Proven Media promoted Neko Catanzaro to the role of president. Catanzaro has been with the company for more than seven years, driving campaigns for clients including Copperstate Farms, Sol Flower Dispensaries, 365 Cannabis, CB Advisors, CBD Emporium, and the Marijuana Industry Trade Association. Her work has appeared in mainstream media outlets including ABC News, CBS, NBC, NPR, Forbes, Entrepreneur, and the Washington Post.

“While Neko excels at cannabis branding and driving revenue for new businesses, that is not all that she has to offer,” said Proven Media Chief Executive Officer Kim Prince. “For the past seven years, Neko has helped Proven Media establish brands in the non-profit and culinary industries. Her expertise has truly brought a layer of intelligent, creative go-to-market strategies and services that are unique for our clients.”


Lester Lee resigned as president at IGNITE International Brands to be replaced by current Chief Operating Officer John Schaefer who will fill both roles. Prior to joining IGNITE, Schaefer gained more than twenty-five years of experience in manufacturing, agriculture, and retail at companies including MedMen, Bayer, and Wegmans grocery chain.

“I am pleased to be appointed president and continue my role as the chief operating officer at a very exciting time in the life of IGNITE,” said Schaefer. “We now have an excellent management team that is focused on launching several new and exciting products and bringing IGNITE to several countries using local industry partners.”


Schwazze, formerly operating as Medicine Man Technologies, promoted Chief Integration and Information Officer Nirup Krishnamurthy to the role of chief operating officer. Krishnamurthy joined the company earlier this year, bringing more than twenty-five years of executive experience at companies including United Airlines, Northern Trust Bank, and The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company.

“Nirup is a seasoned and trusted leader that will continue to deliver results and bring a new sophistication to building a data-driven, technology-enabled operating culture,” said Schwazze Chief Executive Officer Justin Dye. “He is uniquely qualified to drive strategic prioritization and accountability within Schwazze, with a commitment to instilling excellence throughout field operations. I have immense confidence in Nirup’s ability to execute and lead our best-in-class integration and innovation playbook.”


Toronto-based Cronos Group appointed Kurt Schmidt to the roles of president and chief executive officer. He brings more than three decades of experience leading global consumer packaged goods companies including Blue Buffalo, Nestlé, Gerber, and Kraft Foods. Former Cronos President and CEO Mike Gorenstein will continue with the company as executive chairman of the board.

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Kurt Schmidt

“I am thrilled to welcome Kurt to Cronos,” said Gorenstein. “Over the past year, I’ve led a search for an experienced consumer focused executive who shares the company’s values and can help take us to the next level. Kurt is a world-class executive with a long track record of outstanding performance. He has demonstrated tremendous success partnering with founders of late stage start-ups to accelerate growth. He also has extensive operational and management experience at some of the largest global consumer goods companies. I’m excited to partner with Kurt to leverage Cronos Group’s strengths and deliver best in class brands and products to our consumers.”


Directorial and advisory board changes and additions:

Schwazze appointed former General Electric President and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Garwood to its board of directors. Garwood is the founder and current managing member of Liberation Capital and co-owner of Zysense.

Former Molson Coors Chief Growth Officer Kandy Anand joined the board of directors at Folium Biosciences. Anand founded Igniting Business Growth in 2019 and currently serves on the board at Wingstop. He has held executive roles at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Coca-Cola, and Unilever.


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