On Monday, fast-casual chain Shake Shack announced its president and CFO, Tara Comonte, would be departing. She will be stepping in as CEO of TMRW Life Sciences, a biotech company focused on in vitro fertilization (IVF), where she is a founding member of the Board of Directors.
Comonte, who joined Shake Shack in 2017, will remain in her current role through May 7 to oversee the company's fiscal first quarter 2021 reporting period and ensure a thorough transition of her responsibilities. She will begin at TMRW on May 10.
- A subcommittee of the company's board of directors is leading Shake Shack’s search for Comonte’s replacement, it shared in an 8-K filing.
"[Comonte's] track record is extraordinary," Joshua Abram, co-founder of TMRW, said in a statement. "Our long-held plan has been to recruit a proven public market executive who would scale what we started three years ago. Since beginning TMRW, we've worked closely with Tara and we're thrilled to have her as our partner and CEO to lead our hyper-growth, category-defining company."
"In the rest of this century, hundreds of millions of people around the world will choose IVF to build their families," Comonte said. "As more people turn to IVF on their journey to parenthood, technological advancements from TMRW will set new standards for transparency, safety and accessibility in the process, while solving the challenges of fertility cell management."
Since launching commercial operations earlier this year, TMRW's pipeline now represents more than one-third of all U.S. IVF volume, the company said, and it plans to expand into Europe next year.
"Tara's entire career has driven long-term growth for companies on a global scale, and she brings to TMRW her extensive experience in building world-class teams, commercial strategy and operational excellence," Alan Murray, TMRW co-founder said.
At Shake Shack, Comonte’s responsibilities will be transitioned to other leadership team members until a new CFO is found.
"I’m thrilled to see [Comonte] take on a CEO role, and our Shack team will be rooting for her every success,” CEO Randy Garutti said in a statement. “She leaves the company with an incredibly strong team and foundation that is well positioned for our accelerated growth.”
Shake Shack is beginning to return “to a robust development schedule, leveraging our broad array of new formats and digital channels and continuing to build this beloved global brand,” Garutti added.
"It has been a huge honor to help lead this incredible brand through such a transformational period of growth,” Comonte said in a statement. I’m excited to watch their success and growth continue around the world for many years to come and will remain one of their biggest fans.”
Comonte has served as CFO at a number of companies, including Getty Images, IPG Media Brands and McCann Group. Her new role will be her first as CEO.
In the early months of the pandemic, Shake Shack received $10 million in federal coronavirus aid, which sparked criticism from commentators who said the assistance was intended for hard-hit small and medium-sized businesses. The company returned the aid, saying it had received additional funding from investors. It reported 12% lower revenue in 2020 than in 2019.
In an effort to boost sales, the chain is building its first drive-through restaurant in Orlando, Fla., this year, the first of eight it intends to build by the end of 2022, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Shake Shack and TMRW did not immediately respond to requests for comment.