Fernando Mercé

Chief Executive Officer of Melissa & Doug

Meet our CEO and learn what makes him tick!

Favorite way to play as a child: Growing up, Fernando loved crafting and racing slot cars with his father. Each week, Fernando and his dad would tinker with their slot cars, experimenting with how they might be modified for better performance. Fernando’s curiosity and interest in understanding how things work inspired him to earn a Bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Northwestern University and an MBA from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.

Life before Melissa & Doug: Before coming to Melissa & Doug, Fernando was President & Chief Executive Officer of Nestlé Waters North America, one of the largest healthy beverage companies in the United States with brands that include Poland Spring®, Perrier® and Nestlé Pure Life®. Nestlé Waters North America has more than 8,000 employees and 27 factories. Prior to joining Nestlé Waters North America, Fernando was President of Nestlé Purina, Latin America and Caribbean. Fernando started his career with Nestlé in 1992 as an Industrial Engineer. He expanded into marketing and E-Business, becoming Director of Marketing for the Friskies™ Brand and subsequently Global Marketing Director in the PetCare Global Strategic Business Unit.

Favorite way to play today: After busy days at the office figuring out how to make open-ended play a way of life for children around the world, Fernando likes to unwind and connect by enjoying dinner with his family, watching movies, or seeing plays in the city. He spends a lot of time with his 13-year-old son, a competitive tennis player, working on the mental aspects of his game. (“His physical skills have surpassed mine,” Fernando says, laughing.) With his 16-year-old son, Fernando loves to explore, digging deep into new topics of interest, whether it’s historical events or a novel concept such as neuroplasticity (which, by the way, is the brain's ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life — something play is known to promote). He is also a board member for Domus, an organization serving more than 1,700 of the Stamford community’s most struggling youth by creating conditions necessary to get them on a path toward health and opportunity.

Special superpower: At Melissa & Doug, we believe everyone has their own superpower, some skill or ability that sets them apart. When asked about his superpower, Fernando responded without hesitation, “I can fly! But seriously,” he continued, “I guess my real superpower is my ability to stay calm when things get crazy.”

We are thrilled to have Fernando’s leadership at Melissa & Doug as we endeavor to nurture healthy imaginations so children can discover themselves, their passions, and their purpose!