A Local Success Story
Whether it’s bringing a new office space to life or organizing a CHOmobile yogurt giveaway at a community food festival, Cassie Treen ’09 has put her project management skills to work for nearly a decade at Chobani.
Advice to Communication Students
“Try to get involved in as much as you can. Take a nice, broad variety of classes; don’t just focus in on one thing because you never know where you’re going to end up and what you’re going to be interested in until you start doing it. The more variety you have, the more opportunity you’ll have down the road. I did three internships when I was at Oneonta, all at different companies, and I think that helped tremendously by giving me different perspectives into the career that I was going for at the time.”
Being a part of Chobani’s success almost from the very beginning has been both exciting and rewarding for Treen, who majored in Communication Studies and completed a minor in Event Planning. An international film crew recently came to town to capture footage for a TV program about the company, and Treen was one of three longtime employees chosen to be a part of it.
In her current role as project manager for the rapidly expanding Greek yogurt manufacturer, Treen coordinates interior decorating projects in new or renovated office spaces across the country.
“I take a blank space and work with the contractors, architect and facilities staff to create a design board of what the furniture will look like in the space. Then I source the furniture, and when it comes time to bring the space to life, I bring the furniture in and make it beautiful.”
In her previous role as Chobani’s Community Engagement Manager, Treen planned more than 200 community events a year within a three-hour radius of the company’s South Edmeston, N.Y., plant, about half an hour from SUNY Oneonta. She also oversaw volunteer opportunities for Chobani employees, managed the local events team, and coordinated large community projects funded by the Chobani Foundation.
Fulfilling a Dream
It’s been an amazing journey for a girl who grew up on a dairy farm less than six miles from the Chobani plant. The daughter of a farmer and a school teacher, Treen graduated from Edmeston Central School in 2005—the same year Chobani founder, President and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya purchased an abandoned Kraft plant on a whim and launched his dream of introducing the American public to great-tasting, affordable yogurt made with only natural ingredients.
After two years of general studies at Mohawk Valley Community College, Treen transferred to SUNY Oneonta with her own dream:
“I wanted to be an event planner. I knew that that’s what I wanted to do.”
She recalls an event planning course taught by Human Ecology Department Lecturer Oscar Oberkircher and three communication internships as particularly valuable in preparing her for her future career.
After a brief stint on the hospitality team for the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky, Treen landed a job as Ulukaya’s very first executive assistant, just as Chobani was beginning to take off. It was a serendipitous connection. “I saw his passion. Hamdi felt that we really needed to have a strong community presence. He knew that I had gone to school for event planning, and he let me train with our National Events Manager while I was still his executive assistant.”
A new position of local events coordinator evolved from there, and Treen was later promoted to local events manager to oversee a rapidly developing aspect of the company. She has been in the interior design role for about two years, using her project management and communication skills while also exploring her creative side.
“Chobani is a very fast-paced company, so things are always moving and changing, and it’s really neat to see how much it’s evolved,” she said. “I’ll be here 10 years now in March 2020. I’m so happy that I’m still here and I’m still loving what I do.”