Michael Gonda: 40 Under 40 2015

VP, corporate communications, Chobani

After an "exhaustive" search for the right person to lead an overhaul of its communications department, Chobani realized the perfect candidate was right in front of them.

Michael Gonda, VP and director of corporate communications and corporate issues at Weber Shandwick at the time, so impressed the Greek-yogurt company over the course of his first year working on the account that Chobani decided to hire him for its top PR slot.

Gonda didn’t flinch when presented with the task of reorganizing and rebuilding the fast-growth company’s communications operation. He hit the ground running, working with CMO Peter McGuinness to dismantle traditional PR silos to let the discipline play a more central role in problem solving and strategy development.

The result has been a more customer-centric and results-driven approach. Gonda has proven himself an adept steward of the brand with a knack for smart product launches and is an "invaluable" member of the company’s management council.

"We’re very lucky we got him," explains McGuinness. "He’s been a significant player in the stewardship of our brand, integrating external and internal communications and providing insight and counsel for successful product launches."

Gonda has also built Chobani’s first integrated communications apparatus to better share information across the company. Beyond that, he is forming key strategic alliances and leveraging them to enhance the brand’s commitment to corporate responsibility, sustainability, and the purity of its products and mission.

Colleagues describe him as a "news junkie" who attempts to read The New York Times
in its entirety each day. The crisis management pro thrives in high-pressure situations outside of the office, too. 

Gonda joined Weber as an account executive in the crisis management practice,
rising to VP in three short years, spending time in the Caribbean and later Beijing
for the global firm. Here, he worked with the Interpublic agency’s largest clients,
successfully managing crisis situations for many of them.

"Just as he has leaned into what is right about a product or brand to address a crisis," McGuinness adds, "Michael has leaned into the industry’s strengths to buttress its image."

- As a student at Brown University, Gonda received the Undergraduate Teaching Research Award and had his thesis published with distinction

- Rarely does a week go by when he isn’t on the phone mentoring students and fellow Brown graduates seeking career advice and direction

- Gonda immerses himself into his passions. He loves scuba diving and is also an enthusiastic skier

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