CATCHING UP WITH PIZZA HUT’S CHIEF PEOPLE OFFICER

If she’s not belting it out on karaoke night, Kelly McCulloch is taking center stage on efforts to grow the brand through top talent and cultivate a best-in-class culture. Learn more about Pizza Hut’s Chief People Officer and her unwavering commitment to our people.

Who inspired you most when you were young? My mom has always inspired me, and I definitely get my grit from her. My mom did not go to college until later in her life (when my oldest sibling was in college) and up until that point, she did what she had to do to take care of her family. I’d like to say she was a “master of many” – everything from cosmetology, to hanging wallpaper, to delivering newspapers – she made it work. My mom eventually earned her doctorate degree and inspires others as a supervisor in the writing center at Western Governor’s University.

What did you want to be when you were growing up? A teacher – I liked the structure of school, I liked learning, and I liked the social aspect of building relationships. But I took one education class in college and quickly realized teaching was not for me! I am eternally grateful for the teachers who had such an incredible impact on me, and I love watching the impact my children’s teachers have on them. I think we all have the chance to be great teachers to others – challenge their thinking, encourage them, and then send them out into the world! 

I understand you also have quite the ear for music…. Ha! I grew up singing with my siblings; we truly wanted to be the Von Trapp family! Music has always been a huge part of my life – from J. Cole, to Lauren Daigle to Jerry Jeff Walker – I have an eclectic taste in music and I know the lyrics to way too many songs.

Switching gears a bit, what are your key focus areas for this year?  I continue to focus on building people capability and creating the right kind of culture for the Pizza Hut brand. This starts with having talented coaches in place to further develop and inspire teams. So much of an employee’s experience is dependent upon the relationship they have with their coach, so it’s important we teach people how to lead in the right ways.  We’ve got a lot planned this year for our coach development program and onboarding our new technology team in Chicago – showing that we’re a tech powerhouse. Similarly, I’m focused on advancing our restaurant culture to ensure we attract, develop and retain top, diverse talent. 

What do you enjoy most about working with franchisees? I absolutely appreciate their entrepreneurial spirit. This fortitude just speaks to me – they are creating jobs, changing lives and helping people grow in their career – so much respect for what our franchisees do.

You joined Pizza Hut almost fourteen years ago; what’s the best part about working here? Truly, it’s our people. I’m surrounded by such talented, smart and committed individuals here at Pizza Hut and within Yum! Brands who challenge and inspire me to be my best self every day. Here, our work is continually feeding more possibilities for our customers and employees.

It’s a Friday night, what is your family planning to order from the $5 Lineup? That’s easy … two pizzas (pepperoni and beef), 8 bone-out wings with the honey BBQ sauce and Cinnabon Mini Rolls!

Any parting words to share? I’m obsessed with Brene’ Brown, author and research professor. In my opinion, her work seems to be largely based on a piece from Theodore Roosevelt – The Man in the Arena – which I also find so inspiring. “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood … who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” (Theodore Roosevelt)I

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