Filled a communications leadership void and provided strategic counsel at the request of Howard Schultz when he returned to the role of President, CEO, Chairman of Starbucks in 2008. Lead a team of global communications professionals and public relations agencies, as well as the development and execution of communications in support of the company’s transformation strategy. Developed and executed innovative communications for numerous business strategies including Espresso Excellence Training when 7,100 U.S. Starbucks stores were closed for barista training on February 26; the extremely critical March 19 2008 Annual Meeting of Shareholders; the creative and highly successful launch of the Starbucks’ signature approachable blend, Pike Place Roast, in New York City in April; the introduction of several new products (Mastrena espresso machine, Clover coffee machine, Pike Place Roast,, Rewards Program); and the inspirational and motivational October Leadership Conference for 10,000 employees in New Orleans, LA. Helped identify the chief communications officer after I concluded one-year assignment and served as a consultant during his transition period.

lululemon athletica

Served as a mentor/coach/counselor for the company’s public relations manager in order to facilitate her growth and increase her contributions to the business. Utilized real-life experiences to provide insight on how to navigate and succeed in a corporate environment. Guided her growth in the areas of public relations planning and execution, individual and team development, talent management, effective performance reviews, individual and team career tracking, job descriptions, media policy, organizational alignment, measurable communications objectives and negotiating skills.

After I became CEO of lululemon athletica, one of the first things I realized was that we needed to elevate and strengthen the role of public relations as part of our brand-building strategy. In order to accomplish this goal, I immediately sought the counsel of my former Starbucks colleague, Wanda Herndon, who created the corporate communications function at Starbucks and whose guidance I always appreciated. As a result of the counsel that Wanda provided our public relations manager, a communications strategy for lululemon was developed, which enhanced our brand, and our public relations manager honed her skills, which lead to both professional and personal growth. Wanda’s contribution to her development is still evident today.

Christine Day
CEO, Luvo and former CEO of lululemon athletica

Otsuka America Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

When the communications strategy development for Otsuka America Pharmaceutical’s major sales restructuring effort was off track and endangered the company’s ability to execute their business objectives, W Communications stepped in and created a communications strategy and execution plan for the realignment of the Neuroscience Sales Division two weeks prior to the announcement. Wanda and her team successfully provided the leadership team with critical direction and executed a highly successful communications strategy in a short period of time.

W Communications served as the senior communications counsel and was a key member of the Otsuka team. W Communications thoughtful and informed communications strategy included detailed audience segmentation, timelines, announcements, talking points, voicemails, town hall meetings, presentations, employee notifications, FAQs, recruiting brochure, sales meetings, communications job descriptions and executive communications. W Communications served on the planning team for the onboarding sales meetings and national managers’ meetings for existing and new associates. Wanda and her team worked directly with Mark Altmeyer, CEO and Pamela Harris, senior vice president of Sales, and other members of the senior leadership team on their individual communications. Wanda provided senior-level communications support during the search for a new department head, and extensive orientation after the new communications leader was hired.

“As we were preparing for the expansion of our Neuroscience sales force, we realized we needed to have an experienced public relations firm to deliver an effective communications plan. We had hired an organization and six weeks before announcing the expansion and reorganization we had to terminate our contract with the vendor. We were in a very serious situation because we needed someone to join the team to develop an effective public relations and communication plan immediately. W Communications came highly recommended and we hired them to join the team. It was one of the best decisions we made to ensure the success of the expansion and reorganization. Wanda and her team didn’t miss a beat as they took on the tremendous task of revamping the communications plan, creating messaging and executing all elements of the plan within short time frame. W Communications not only accomplished this, the company exceeded all expectations. Therefore, we retained the company for the Hospital Sales realignment as well as for the Onboarding Meeting and National Managers Meetings. During the time that W Communications worked with Otsuka, Wanda and her team totally immersed themselves in Otsuka business, made significant contributions, and were respected members of the team. Without her and her company’s efforts, we would not have been able to successfully achieve our business objectives.”

Pam Harris
Former senior vice president of Sales
Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc.

At one point amid the chaos, a welcome face unexpectedly appeared at my office door. Wanda Herndon is a straight-talking, fun-loving, wise woman who headed Starbucks global communications from 1995 until 2006, when she left us to launch her own consulting firm, W Communications.

As many ex-partners do, Wanda often returned to visit. She and I had our own rich history of honest, conversations, and when she popped in to say hello I was relieved to see her. I asked her to close the door.

“Did you hear about the memo?” I said, still emanating disbelief. Wanda said yes she knew about it, and as she sat down in front of my desk, I shook my head and spoke about how hurt I was about the breach of trust.

“Howard,” she said in the matter-of-fact tone I’d come to expect, and appreciate. “Nothing is confidential. This is the new reality.”

It was not the first time Wanda had spoken these words to me. In the past she had even suggested that I refrain from putting certain thoughts in writing. Yet Wanda also understood two things about me. First, that it is my nature to speak from the heart, usually unedited. Second, that I conduct my life with an expectation that people will do the right thing. Yet even with all my experience, I am still surprised when they do not.

“This too shall pass,” Wanda told me. “Just hang in there.”

She was a calming influence that day and helped me put the situation in perspective.

Excerpt from page 28 regarding the leaked memo entitled “The Commoditization of the Starbucks Experience” on a gossip website.

Howard Schultz

Executive Chairman, Starbucks Coffee Company

“Thank you, thank you, thank you! Your steady hand, deft touch and great sense of humor were critical in getting us through a tough transition and a tough year.

Plus, it was fun just seeing you around the halls and hearing your laugh again. Now go enjoy yourself for a while!”

David Landau

Former Senior Vice President
Law and Corporate Affairs
Starbucks Coffee Company