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Yum! In The News

Baller move: This Yum! vice president plays field hockey for a U.S. national squad

David de Prez sets goals for his team, which manages operations and technology for the world’s largest restaurant company, but on the pitch, this field hockey forward makes goals in international tournaments.

Field hockey players

Image provided by David de Prez.

Published on August 29, 2022

Yum! Vice President of Global Operations & Restaurant Technology David de Prez took some time off work recently. Time off is normal, even expected, in the corporate world, but de Prez didn’t snap photos of an idyllic island scene and post them to his social media as some opt to do. Instead, his vacation memories are captured on the Masters Hockey World Cup website as de Prez represented the United States in the England-based field hockey tournament featuring teams from around the globe.

“I’m a huge believer in the power of sport to have a positive influence in so many aspects of life and work. I put a lot of my success as an operator down to what I learnt on the sports field as well, as it trains my brain to recognize patterns, processes and the logical sequencing of events,” de Prez said.

As a child, British native de Prez always had a stick, racquet or ball in his hand. He can trace back his love for field hockey (or just “hockey” as it’s referred to in Europe) to age 7 when he played on the kids’ team at a local club while his parents played in the adult league. de Prez carried his passion for the sport throughout his adolescence, playing on his university’s team, and then on club teams wherever his Yum! job took him – the United Kingdom, South Africa, Dubai and now, Texas in the United States.

“Having been part of the Yum! family for over 14 years now, word certainly gets around that I play hockey,” de Prez said. He even incorporated the sport into his personal recognition award — a tradition at Yum! in which colleagues give each other a physical token for a job well done. At one point in his career, de Prez’s award included an image of one of his favorite players taking a “drag flick,” one of the most technically difficult and physically demanding shots in the game.

But field hockey’s influence on de Prez extends beyond corporate recognition. He’s developed his closest friendships on the pitch and even met his wife through the sport. “Internationally, it’s one the largest participation sports, due to both men and women playing from as young as 5 years old to age 80, so many hockey clubs become an extension of your family and a regular weekend hangout,” he said. “Once you start running and the endorphins kick in, there’s no better feeling!”

Like de Prez, his teammates also work full- or part-time off the field, even those who were part of Olympic teams. Their jobs range from investment banking to farming, and with that, comes sacrifice.

“Having that shared commitment to turn up and perform for one another is a critical part of a successful team — on the pitch or in the business world,” de Prez said. “I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to manage my sport, personal and work life, so that I can honor all three sets of commitments, but it’s not without sacrifice, not just by me, but from family and sometimes colleagues, too. Having that support makes it possible, and I’m very grateful for it.”

On August 21, The Masters Hockey World Cup ended. The U.S. Over 40 Men’s Team came in eighth overall, beating out Italy, Scotland (in which de Prez scored a hat trick of goals) and Malaysia but losing to France in the final match.

“The United States does not have the same rigorous system of adult men’s hockey leagues as other countries do, so we were always seen as the underdogs,” de Prez explained. When the team took on France, they’d already suffered a frustrating loss to Argentina, due to missed scoring opportunities, and incurred several injuries.

Overall, de Prez scored five of the U.S. team’s goals, ranking as one of the tournament’s top 10 highest-scoring players, an accomplishment that he hopes to repeat in the next World Cup. But for now, he’s returned to his office at Yum! Brands.

“We all achieve and fail, whether at work or in sports, but the lesson is to keep going,” de Prez said. “I encourage everyone to keep playing, whatever it may be, for as long as you can – that’s certainly my intention!”

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