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Jul 03, 2024

People moves: Raise a glass to Sonya Ghobrial, Diageo’s new global head of IR

Axcelis Technologies also announces new senior vice president of IR and Simona Jankowski’s next role revealed

Diageo, home to brands including Tanqueray, Guinness and Smirnoff, has announced Sonya Ghobrial as its new global head of IR. Currently at Haleon, she will join Diageo in October this year, taking over from Durga Doraisamy, who ‘has decided to leave the company later this year to pursue her next career opportunity,’ according to a company statement.

Ghobrial previously spoke to IR Magazine about spinning off consumer health business Haleon from GSK in 2020. No stranger to big brand names, Haleon – home to Sensodyne toothpaste and Advil painkillers – became the biggest European listing in a decade when it began trading on the London Stock Exchange in 2022.

Before joining GSK to work on the de-merger and listing, Ghobrial ran her own IR consultancy after a stint leading IR at brewer Heineken. She came to investor relations from the sell side, where she covered the beverages and then broader consumer sector at investment banks including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Barclays.

Durga, who joined Diageo from Starbucks in July 2021, has ‘transformed and strengthened the IR function,’ says the firm in statement. ‘She has established an IR team in the US, Diageo’s largest market, as well as a significant pool of potential investors. During her time at Diageo, the company’s shareholder register has become more diverse, including an increase in US-based holdings and additional long-term global investment firms establishing or significantly increasing their positions in Diageo’s stock.’

Elsewhere, Axcelis – the Massachusetts semiconductor firm that was named in Fortune’s fastest-growing companies list in 2022 and then Forbes’ list of America’s most successful mid-sized companies in 2024 – also has a new IR lead.

David Ryzhik is taking up the role of senior vice president of IR and corporate strategy this month, following the announcement that Doug Lawson, executive vice president of corporate marketing and strategy, plans to retire. He will remain as a senior adviser through to July 2025.

Ryzhik brings two decades’ of experience to the role from a variety of industries. He joins Axcelis from MKS Instruments, where he most recently served as vice president of IR. Prior to MKS, he worked as an equity analyst covering the industrial technology and distributed ledger technology sectors at Susquehanna International Group and as a senior research associate at Brean Capital.

A board member of the NIRI Boston chapter, Ryzhik has also held various financial roles in public administration at the NYC Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget, and the NYC Fire Department.

‘[David] is a seasoned executive with a wealth of knowledge and experience in the financial sector, which will be of great value as we continue to focus on growth opportunities for Axcelis,’ says Jamie Coogan, executive vice president and CFO, in a statement welcoming Ryzhik to the company.

‘Doug has made a lasting impact on the growth and strategy of Axcelis over the course of his 15 years at the company,’ adds Russell Low, president and CEO. ‘His leadership, advice and focus on building strong relationships with all of our stakeholders have helped position Axcelis for a very bright future.’

Last week, we covered the news that Simona Jankowski, NVIDIA’s vice president of IR and strategic finance, was leaving the firm. It has now been announced that she is joining photonic chip firm Lightmatter as its CFO.

‘Simona’s track record leading financial strategy and IR teams, deep expertise in the AI industry and passion for science and engineering will allow us to scale our operations and culture and prepare for Lightmatter’s next phase of growth,’ says Nick Harris, co-founder and CEO of Lightmatter, in a statement. ‘We are proud to bring in an accomplished leader at the helm of our finance organization as we build the technology powering the next generation of AI innovation.’

Jankowski’s appointment follows a $310 mn fund-raise last year, which valued the company at $1.2 bn, and ‘comes at a time of significant growth’ for the company. Her excitement about the role shines through in her own comments.

‘Generative AI is driving unprecedented demand for a new class of extreme-scale data centers,’ she says. ‘Lightmatter has made foundational breakthroughs in photonics that enable data centers to increase in scale and performance by orders of magnitude and with greater energy efficiency. With a generational performance lead, Lightmatter is poised to drive the data-center photonics revolution.

‘I am thrilled to join this brilliant team of inventors, technologists and accomplished industry executives to help scale the company for significant growth in the years ahead.’

Garnet Roach

An award-winning journalist, Garnet Roach joined IR Magazine in October 2012, working on both the editorial and research sides of the publication. Prior to entering the world of investor relations, her freelance career covered a broad range of...