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Yum! Brands business

How Yum! Brands is a top company for developing leaders

The world’s largest restaurant company believes every employee can lead when given opportunities for growth.

Yum! believes that a key component to its performance is its unrivaled talent. That’s why the parent company of KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and The Habit Burger Grill invests heavily in the growth and development of its people in a variety of ways.  

 “What sets Yum! apart is how intentional we are about investing in leadership development, because we believe that every one of our employees can achieve their full potential while also driving business performance,” said Megan Verret, Yum! Brands vice president of Global Talent.  

In fact, last year Yum! was recognized by TIME magazine on its “Best Companies for Future Leaders” list, ranking the Company No. 32 out of 150 U.S. businesses. From leadership development to skills training, Yum! equips employees at its corporate offices around the globe with the skills they need to grow the business and themselves.  

Here’s how Yum!’s learning and development has become a hallmark for the business.  

“Know thyself” in order to better collaborate with others  

A critical part in leading others is first gaining self-awareness, including knowing who you are as a leader, your work style, what you need to do to grow and how you can lead others to achieve results. That’s why Yum! offers programs and experiences specifically geared toward individual leadership development.  

For instance, every corporate employee at Yum! participates annually in the Building People Capability cycle, which involves goal setting, development planning and evaluating year-end results. As part of this cycle, employees work with their coaches on an Individual Development Plan to ensure ongoing professional development and support. During Individual Development Planning, employees have the opportunity to share their long-term interests and career goals and partner with their coaches on how to achieve them.


Note: Yum!’s use of the term “coach” instead of “manager” is intentional and grounded in the idea that, while managers oversee work, coaches are also responsible for helping each employee grow and perform at their best.

Another example is Heartstyles, a leadership development program Yum! acquired in 2020  to unlock potential and build the capabilities of the people who drive the performance for its restaurants around the world. Through hands-on and virtual instruction, Heartstyles provides a clear, practical way to increase self-awareness, enhance leadership skills and motivate the best performance out of teams. 

 “A common phrase I hear from people who take the Heartstyles course is ‘eye-opening,’ because many people haven’t had the opportunity to devote time to meaningfully examine their leadership style,” said Megan Verret, Yum! Brands vice president of Global Talent. “Heartstyles provides participants with relevant, actionable feedback that unlocks myriad learnings that can be applied to both how they lead and show up for their teams. It can be life-changing.” 

Also impactful is Coach Academy, a Yum!-developed program focused on cultivating the skills and growth of coaches within the Company. Coach Academy teaches nine core behaviors, including how to inspire, listen and provide performance feedback; and in 2023, the program won a Silver Brandon Hall Award for Leadership Development, which recognizes organizations that have successfully deployed programs, strategies, processes and tools in areas including talent management and leadership development.  

For those employees who aspire for higher levels of management, Yum! also developed Leadership Accel. This intensive, integrated development experience enables high-potential employees on the cusp of senior leadership to grow as inspirational leaders and strategic thinkers – from influencing others to using critical thinking and building decision-making skills.  

Curiosity is a career commodity at Yum! Brands 

Yum! believes that a winning mindset is critical to successful leadership, and there are a variety of opportunities for employees to grow their skillset beyond their day-to-day jobs, ultimately helping grow their careers. 

As part of Yum!’s commitment to career growth, the company offers short-term assignments across teams, functions and projects. From part-time to full-time immersions, short-term assignments allow employees to grow their capabilities, learn more about different functions and divisions and gain further insight into business operations without the permanent commitment of a role switch. 

“I have always been fascinated by the role of our in-house insights agency Collider, so I raised my hand for a short-term assignment that would allow me to learn more about their work while also contributing to a new development program for marketers,” said Jessica Chu, who works in Yum! Corporate Affairs. “The work was completely different from my current role, and it was rewarding to bring my perspectives to a new project while simultaneously growing my skillset, gaining invaluable experience outside of my comfort zone and expanding my network within the Company.”  

Yum! also hosts dedicated career development weeks to help employees work on their most important asset: themselves. Designed as an internally hosted conference, this time is filled with opportunities to build know-how and learn about oneself, hear from renowned keynote speakers, gain access to senior leaders and attend an array of personal- and professional-focused sessions. No matter the person’s level or function, there’s a session for everyone.  

“Since we introduced career development weeks more than five years ago, our programming has only evolved and gotten better with each year,” said Lisa Johnson, senior director of Learning & Organizational Development at Yum! Brands. “Last year, one of our development weeks offered more than 35 virtual and in-person sessions that were attended by over 1,000 employees, and the excitement around these experiences continues to grow.”   

Yum! even leverages its relationships with other organizations to serve its employees. Through its partnership with the University of Louisville and The Yum! Center for Global Franchise Excellence, Yum! employees and franchise partners have access to Franchising Management Certificate Bootcamps. This accelerated curriculum offers an effective and efficient way to pursue franchising knowledge – whether it’s to become a franchise owner, enter into franchise management or further contribute to an employee’s existing role at the company.  

Yum! also offers every employee access to LinkedIn Learning – with more than 21,000 online videos and courses – to help build general business, technology-related and creative skills. These educational courses are designed to suit individual interests and encourage employees to grow their own way.  

Today’s investments can help shape tomorrow’s greatest leaders 

These are just a few examples that illustrate why Yum! is renowned for its commitment to leadership development, and the company is proud of the growth-minded leaders that its people-first culture has produced over the past 25-plus years. They are a key ingredient in the recipe that allows Yum! to earn recognition like TIME’s “Best Companies for Future Leaders” list.   

“Regardless of where Yum! lands in someone’s career journey, we want to ensure that their time with us has a positive impact on their growth,” said Verret. “Whether Yum! is a steppingstone to something else or the place to retire, I’m confident that we are shaping some of the future’s most inspiring and influential leaders.” 





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