Heidi Petz headshot

A colorful return

April 8, 2024


Heidi Petz got some of her first brushes with public speaking while serving as a class president during her first year at Westhampton College. Now, the global business leader will return to the lectern as the Commencement speaker for her alma mater.

Petz, a 1997 alum, is president and CEO of The Sherwin-Williams Company. She will address University of Richmond graduates from the School of Arts & Sciences, Robins School of Business, and Jepson School of Leadership Studies during the main ceremony at 2 p.m. on May 12 at the Robins Center.

"As a proud graduate of the University of Richmond, I’m truly honored to be the 2024 commencement speaker and connect with this incredible class of future leaders,” said Petz. “I look forward to sharing some of my experiences with them that best embody bringing this wonderful education and preparation into the real world.”

The University’s past two Commencement speakers have also been UR alums — Cornell Tech Dean Greg Morrisett and author and podcaster Kelly Corrigan.

“The University of Richmond benefits from an incredible network of accomplished alumni who bring pride to our university community,” said UR President Kevin F. Hallock. “They regularly pass on insights that serve our graduates well and celebrate the shared, unique, and wonderful experience of being Richmond Spiders. Heidi is an outstanding leader, and I look forward to welcoming her back to campus to inspire our graduates.”

In January, Petz was named the 10th CEO of Sherwin-Williams, a global leader in the paint and coatings industry. She has served as the company’s president since March 2022. Petz joined Sherwin-Williams in 2017 and has held positions of increasing responsibility, including previously serving as president of the Consumer Brands Group and of The Americas Group.

Before joining Sherwin-Williams, she held various leadership roles with Newell Rubbermaid, Target Corporation, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Petz serves on the board of directors for Ulta Beauty and the University Hospitals Health System. She is also a member of the Policy Advisory Board of the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

Petz received a bachelor’s degree in leadership studies from the University of Richmond with minors in business administration and speech communication. She received a master’s degree in business administration from Loyola University Maryland.

The Jepson School was still fairly new when Petz attended orientation. She recalled the professor who welcomed them describing the program’s unique focus: understanding organization, culture, followership, and movement.

“All of those things appealed to me immediately,” she said. “I thought, someone’s talking just to me. I’m meant to be here.”