Chobani restructures for a more ‘nimble, team-centric’ approach with McGuinness as president

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Peter McGuinness rises to become president at Chobani. Source: Chobani
Peter McGuinness rises to become president at Chobani. Source: Chobani
Once again Chobani is throwing out the old playbook that many food and beverage companies have followed for decades by ditching the traditional organizational divisions in favor of a more “nimble, team-centric” approach that it believes will foster innovation and rapid growth.

At helm as president will be Peter McGuinness who has served the company for six years as the yogurt manufacturer’s chief marketing and commercial officer. He will report to Chobani CEO and founder Hamdi Ulukaya.

In his new role, McGuinness will add to his current responsibility for overseeing Chobani’s “demand” function to also include supply chain, manufacturing, sustainability and research & development, the company announced this morning.

By bringing these functions together under McGuinness, Chobani aims to “break down silos” and walls that previously separated each function, McGuinness said.

“I think this is what a modern food company should be. I don’t think you should be matrixed or siloed or layered or hierarchical. That is the old playbook and that is what we are trying do away with. We are trying to be more team-centric. We are trying to be more collaborative. We are trying to be less layered, more horizontal, all to grow more and innovate more. This is what tomorrow’s food company will do,”​ he added.

A time for change

The restructure comes at a time when the yogurt category overall has been struggling, although McGuinness said Chobani’s core yogurt business has remained strong and its innovations, embraced by consumers, have helped to expand the dayparts and use for yogurt.

“Our core [Greek yogurt] business is growing, which feels really, really good,”​ considering the yogurt category “was dramatically down and is now close to flat,”​ he said. At the same time, he added, the company’s recent launches, including Gimmies, Less Sugar Greek, a line of plant-based coconut yogurt and the new nut-butter-infused yogurts that began rolling out less than a month ago, “are all really nice, accretive innovations in the category.”

Despite these successes in the face of adversity, McGuinness said, Chobani “is on the eve of launching into several other new categories that we have never been in before”​ beyond yogurt. While he wouldn’t share what the new products or categories will be, he said he expects them to launch in late November.

He also noted that the expansion has been a big investment for Chobani, which opted not to work with co-packers or co-manufacturers, but rather to expand its own facilities and plants to handle production.

“We could have co-packed these products like a lot of other competitors of ours do, but we also think that is kind of a shortcut. We want to make it ourselves because we want to control the quality of it and we want to control the production of it and the shipping of it and the service levels of it. When you farm that all out or subcontract that out, I think, you lose control of your product,”​ he said.

With this in mind, McGuinness said he believes that for this type of innovation to succeed the company needed to unite supply and demand and R&D.

Rising stars

McGuinness’ promotion was not the only one as part of the restructuring. Rather, he noted, “there are many other stars risking and other people getting promoted, and that is beautiful to see as well.”

Among these reporting to McGuinness are Federico Muyshondt, who will become the chief customer officer, which will involve category development, shopper marketing and revenue and trade management.  Also, Jason Blaisure will report to McGuinness as the senior vice president of supply chain.

Two others who are promoted will report to Ulukaya: Parag Agrawal, as the chief information officer, and Grace Zuncic, as the chief people and culture officer.

“Chobani has a deep bench. It is rich in talent and to see that next generation start to rise is also a beautiful thing. As someone here six years, it is wonderful to see people evolve and grow and get recognized and this is a real proud moment to the company, and I know it is a proud moment for Hamdi as well,”​ McGuinness said.

While the company congratulations these staff members for their hard work and promotions, it also thanks two outgoing leaders who the company noted in a release have “worked tirelessly during their tenure at the company to make Chobani better, stronger and more prepared for its future.”

This includes Mick Beekhuizen, chief financial officer, who is leaving to pursue other opportunities, according to Chobani.

In addition, Chobani’s current treasurer Michelle Brooks will serve as interim chief financial officer, the company said.

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