Starbucks hires US Airways corporate comms lead

SEATTLE: Starbucks is undergoing a number of changes in its global communications groups, including the appointment of US Airways comms lead Jim Olson to head corporate communications.

SEATTLE: Starbucks is undergoing a number of changes in its global communications groups, including the appointment of US Airways comms lead Jim Olson to head corporate communications, effective April 25.

Olson, who leads global external and internal communications at US Airways, including employee engagement, media relations, social media strategy, and crisis management, was named VP of corporate communications for the Phoenix-based airline in 2008. He was responsible for communication surrounding the New York Hudson River landing last year.

Jim Olson, US AirwaysPrior to joining US Airways, he was SVP in Waggener Edstrom's digital strategies group in Seattle, where Corey duBrowa, then president of Waggener Edstrom North America, brought him on board. At Starbucks, Olson will report to duBrowa, who is currently Starbucks' global communications lead.

The appointment follows the departure of Starbucks' director of corporate communications Deb Trevino, who is leaving the company for personal reasons, said duBrowa.

“When I had the opportunity to talk to Jim again about a corporate role, I snapped at it,” said duBrowa. “He's such a bright business thinker; he's a great communicator; and his track record at US Airways speaks for itself.”

For Olson, the change is in part the result of a personal decision to move his family back to their home in Seattle. He told PRWeek it is also an opportunity to translate his broad communications experience to a company that is “at a key inflection point in history,” citing Starbucks' 40th Anniversary, upcoming product launches, and international expansion.

Olson, whose last day at US Airways is April 15, said that the airline is currently undergoing a search for a new head of corporate communications.

DuBrowa explained that Starbucks is also close to hiring a UK-based VP of public affairs for Europe, to fill the role of Cathy Heseltine who decided to take a one-year sabbatical, which is a benefit of staying with the company for 10 years.

Other structural changes include the reappointment of Christina McPherson, head of executive and international communications, to focus wholly on her international responsibilities as the company looks for new ways to communicate and expand its retail and grocery offerings abroad, explained duBrowa.

Gina Woods, group marketing manager at the company, has assumed the role of director of executive communications.

The company also recently updated the role of Lara Wyss, director of global PR across retail and CPG brands, to focus more on the CPG side of the business as the company expands its grocery portfolio in the US and abroad. And it promoted Alan Hilowitz from his recent position of senior manager of global PR to director of corporate communications, reporting to Olson.

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