How I Got Here: Aaron Powell
NORTHAMPTON, MA / ACCESSWIRE / November 9, 2022 / Yum! Brands
In this #HowIGotHere series, you'll read about the career paths of some of the world-renowned leaders at Yum! Brands. Learn more about Aaron Powell, Global Chief Executive Officer of Pizza Hut in this installment.
Johnston High School, Austin, Texas, United States(1985-1989)
Washington University in St. Louis BSBA, Business AdministrationSt. Louis, Missouri, United States(1989 - 1993)
The Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania, MBA, Strategic Management, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States(2001 - 2003)
If we were to interview your teachers, what would they say about you?
I matured later, so, my primary school teachers would say, "I knew he was smart, but Aaron is successful?" My graduate school teachers would describe me as thoughtful and sincere."
What did you want to be when you grew up?
In school, I was adept at debating and so dreamt of being a lawyer, but I soon realized that the profession wasn't entirely as it was portrayed in Hollywood.
I then shifted my sights toward becoming a high school teacher or football coach as I loved team sports and working with others.
I ended up in the business world after I accepted an internship at Procter & Gamble simply because I had a 1983 Mazda RX7 that I couldn't afford to fix and it paid $500 weekly, including a company car!
First job | My first time getting paid was for a paper route in the fourth grade. My first "real job" was as an office assistant in the summer after my freshman year of high school.
Procter & Gamble
1992: Sales Intern, Laundry, St. Louis, Missouri
1993 - 1994: Account Manager, Foodservice ision, St. Louis, Missouri
1995 - 1996: Technology Account Executive, Innovation Team, Cincinnati, Ohio
1996 - 1997: Assistant Brand Manager, Food and Beverage, Cincinnati, Ohio
1998 - 1999: Category Account Executive, Office Coffee Services, Cincinnati, Ohio
2000 - 2001: Key Account Executive and Channel Manager, Coffee Services, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Mercer Management Consulting
2002: Strategy Consultant, New York City
Bain & Company
2003 - 2004: Consultant, Dallas, Texas
2005: Case Team Leader, Dallas, Texas
2006 - 2007: Manager, Dallas, Texas
2007 - 2008: Strategy Director, Dallas, Texas
2008 - 2009: Strategy Director, Asia-Pacific, Hong Kong
2010 - 2012: General Manager, Ukraine, Kiev, Ukraine
2013 - 2014: Managing Director, Turkey, Istanbul, Turkey
2014 - 2015: Vice President, Central and Eastern Europe, Moscow, Russia
2016 - 2017: President, North American Professional, Atlanta, Georgia
2018: President, Consumer, Europe, Middle East & Africa, London, United Kingdom
2018 - 2019: Global President, Professional, Atlanta, Georgia
2020 - 2021: President, Consumer, Asia-Pacific, Singapore
2021 - present: Global Chief Executive Officer, Plano, Texas
What moments, or who, in your life have shaped the way you work?
Meeting and marrying my wife Suzette | I was blessed with some natural talents which got me through, but, marrying Suzette, becoming a father, and her belief in me, changed my idea about trying to live life (personally and professionally) to its fullest.
For example, while at Procter & Gamble, I was doing well but feeling ready to take on a new challange. Suzette encouraged me to figure out what I really wanted and to go for it. I took her advice and this desire for a new diredtion as an opportunity to go back to school for my MBA. We went from two incomes ( she was a paralegal about to give birth to our first daughter) to no incomes as I went back to graduate school full-time. This wasn't a rational decision. This was about belief in the future that we could create for our family, and I would have never considered such a move without Suzette.
Stan Gohlinghorst | A large influence on me as a leader was my second manager at Procter and Gamble. Stan had 40 years of experience at the company, and I was just 22 years old. I still use his leadership lessons on how to treat people and customersas well as how to things the right way. My two years with him as my coach were invaluable.
2014 Russian Financial Crisis | When the ruble's devaluation hit Eastern Europe, I was leading a team at Kimberly-Clark. Through this economic downturn, I learned that with the right mindset and teamwork, anything was possible. We created a completely new operating plan with the stated goal of doing big things, so that everyone had a job. The team crushed it by delivering great results and experienced no layoffs, despite the bleak outlook in the macroenvironment.
Do you believe in work/life balance?
I absolutely believe in work/life balance and that it takes a real, inidualized effort to get it done.
For me, I am quite intentional. My laptop is barely open on the weekend, and I almost 100% unplug on vacations.
On the other hand, I will sqeeze out as much productivity and output as is humanly possible while I am working. People are generally suprised by hoow full I will pack things in on business trips without doing any sightseeing or having any downtime, but that is 100%, so that I can get home to be with my family.
My belief is: to each their own to figure out what works. Be intentional and purposeful.
What do people think you do versus what you actually do?
Having been a general manager since 2010, what I actually do is 50% people related: coaching, one-on-ones, problem-solving to help people get to an answer, interacting and meeting different people to form relationships, etc. The only way to really have impact is to ensure that the right people are in the right roler and have the right tone and context. What I don't do are big a-ha moments of strategy. I enable others to make decisions by helping to define the sandbox (boundaries) and set the tone.
In what wats does technology play a role in your work?
I am absolutely paranoid about becoming obsolete, and this is particularly true about technology. So, I really try to spend my free time reading and learning about technology. I don't want to mislead; I am not a technophile. But I make it a point, to get on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok. I have a VR headset. I have made myself observe Twitch. I take it as something fully in my control to stay as current as possible for as long as possible.
What is the best piece of advice that you've been given?
In the context of career devolpment, "know thyself" is great advice. I like the way the 1990s rap group 3rd Bass say it in their song "Sons of 3rd Bass," "He is stupid, but he knows that he is stupid and that almost makes him smart." I think knowing what you are good at, your blind spots and what you need to get to your peak performance is quite important.
What makes you happy?
I am much more casual, low-key and informal than some may think of me. I love the simple moments like reading a book next to my wife on our patio or listening to live music at a hole-in-the-wall venue or teaching our oldest daughter how to play a song on the guitar.
Professionally, nothing makes me happier than seeing an individualual grow and thrive.
How do you do it?
I was once told that all anyone really wants in a job is "interesting work with people they like." I believe that anything is possible. What really motivates me is being a part of something where people are positively affected. So, I try to accomplish that by focusing on real work that can make a real difference. I don't stew in negative enviroment where we attack inaction.
Said differently, I think that the concept of "interesting work" is something in which - almost all cases - the motivated person can make interesting. Life is too short to let two years pass without growing enjoying yourself.
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Spokesperson: Yum! Brands
SOURCE: Yum! Brands
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