Edelman's Stacey Zolt Hara joins Visa

The San Francisco-based role is new at the payments company.

SAN FRANCISCO: Edelman’s Stacey Zolt Hara has joined Visa in the newly created position of VP and head of global reputation management and public affairs.

Reporting to Paul Cohen, SVP and head of communications, Zolt Hara is based in San Francisco. She started on Monday.

Zolt Hara said it’s the first time Visa has "carved out a new space specifically using reputation as an overarching area of focus."

Visa is forming Zolt Hara’s team, pulling talent from parts of the company, she said. It will have proficiencies in security and privacy, issues management, crisis, public affairs, and purpose comms, Zolt Hara said.

She explained that Visa doesn’t want a crisis team that "swats away" issues, but instead takes a more proactive stance.

"We’re thinking strategically about how Visa can put the right building blocks in place to build a strong brand reputation among thought leaders and customers," Zolt Hara added.

The team will be primarily based in San Francisco, supported by external comms agencies and offices worldwide. Visa doesn’t have an AOR.

At Edelman, Zolt Hara was MD of corporate and public affairs, leading a $19 million P&L and 70 staffers in the San Francisco and Sacramento offices, according to her LinkedIn account. Her team focused on public affairs, crisis and risk, business and social purpose, corporate reputations, executive positioning, employee experience, financial communications, and financial services.

"We wish her well in her new endeavor and thank for her contributions to the agency and our clients over the last five years," an Edelman spokesperson said. "We are looking to fill the position, but we have no updates on that as of yet."

Before joining Edelman, she was EVP and Midwest director for transformation communications, an offering she designed and implemented, according to her LinkedIn. Zolt Hara was a key adviser to United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz and his team between 2015 and 2017. She also had a year-long stint as global chief of staff for Edelman CEO Richard Edelman. For three years, Zolt Hara was EVP and public affairs practice head for the Chicago office.

Cohen returned to Visa last year after two years at PayPal. Visa also recently hired Marianne Mwaniki as SVP of social impact, filling the vacancy left by Stephen Kehoe, who joined Edelman as global chair of reputation.

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