Students Get A Taste of Pizza Hut

November 15
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Pizza Hut Hosts Career Immersion Day and Announces Life Unboxed Scholarship

chris finleyby Chris FinleyCSR and Internal Brand Experience

Your alarm beeps loudly at 7:00 am, parent pulls on one of your toes, and the family dog licks your face – simultaneously. Snatch a slice of cold leftover pizza, arrive at school, sit in on a few lessons, grab lunch in the cafeteria, couple more lessons, squeeze in PE somewhere, go home. Rinse and repeat, Monday to Friday. Most people in high school (or that attended high school) can relate to some degree.

School is UBER important, in fact, a critical key to success. Everyone understands this, but that doesn’t stop me from wishing there was more variety and career engagement opportunities presented during these high school years. Something like this would help juniors prepare for college, for a career, and possibly even help answer the age old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”.

At Pizza Hut, we helped make that happen for some well deserving local students. In true Life Unboxed fashion, Pizza Hut is unlocking potential in our community, in an innovative way, via a new partnership with Uplift Education. Uplift Education operates a network of 36 tuition-free, college preparatory, public charter schools in Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, Irving, Grand Prairie and DeSoto on 17 campuses, serving PreK-12. In addition to recent local volunteering and book drives, on November 2, we hosted an amazing group of high school juniors from Uplift Infinity Preparatory at our Plano headquarters for a career immersion day. Scholars experienced a day in the life of a Pizza Hut employee, including:

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  • Life Unboxed introduction
  • Participating in a career question and answer panel
  • CORE building tour with food demo
  • Lunch (pizza, of course)
  • Limited Time Offer (LTO) Ideation Creation

Amy Messersmith, Pizza Hut Chief People Officer, helped frame up the day by describing our culture, Life Unboxed. She talked about the synergies between Uplift and Pizza Hut’s mission of unlocking potential and helping scholars shine through. In addition to Life Unboxed, the scholars were introduced to The Literacy Project, Pizza Hut’s new community impact platform.

Next up was a very impactful career question and answer panel, moderated by James Fripp aka the most interesting man under the red roof. Four panelists participated, representing marketing, operations, human resources, and restaurant general managers. Scholars asked so many great questions throughout the panel. One of my personal favorites was “What is the difference between a job and a career?”. Now that can get deep!

Following the panel, scholars took a tour and learned more about the building and functions within. In addition to checking out the modern building, they learned about recognition (which is around the office desks), walked through the gym, and experienced a food demo with Senior Chef Matthew Dunn.

After lunch, Betty Olvera, training manager, led a LTO Ideation session. Scholars were given some background on current and past LTOs like grilled cheese pizza and were then challenged to create their own pizza using new ingredients then, present back their product in front of the entire class of nearly 80 students and 15 staff. It was a huge success! uplift-career-day-lto-instructionThe creativity and enthusiasm surrounding the event was truly inspirational. Our judges, a panel of three marketing and operations folks, had the difficult task of selecting one winning team out of 10. Based on how well the product met the consumer insight, creativity, and presentation, the panel chose the “Mac-A-Dilla” inventors, a pizza – quesadilla hybrid. Talk about delicious!

Last but certainly not least, Amy Messersmith closed out a fabulous day with the announcement of Pizza Hut’s Life Unboxed Scholarship. Beginning next school year, all seniors at Uplift Education will have the opportunity to apply for this $25,000 college assistance scholarship to help with tuition fees at the college or university of their choice.

This corporate/educational institution partnership is a great example of what’s to come in the corporate social responsibility space for Pizza Hut and what will help drive our society forward. Uplift plans to expand their Road to College program to other companies and use a similar template to show what it’s like to have a career in their industry. As Yasmin Bhatia, CEO of Uplift Education said, “Career experiences like the one we are so grateful Pizza Hut hosted are the next step in exposing our scholars to careers they may like to pursue after earning their degree. My hope is that more businesses will step up like Pizza Hut has to provide meaningful career experiences for Uplift scholars.”

I was lucky enough to speak with the Uplift Infinity scholars about a week before their visit and could tell they were a high caliber, engaged group. My hope is that they left Pizza Hut more knowledgeable about what it’s like to have a career in a global organization, the numerous paths available, and excited about the Life Unboxed scholarship. Andrea Villanueva, Uplift Infinity’s Dean of College Prep, may have summarized the day best saying “The panel was so impactful, the tour and lunch was amazing, and the hands-on design activity was so fun!”. Needless to say, our future appears very bright with this next generation of leaders.

More details to come on the Life Unboxed Scholarship. Check out the full press release here.

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The winning team shows off their new product the “Mac-A-Dilla.” A pizza-quesadilla hybrid stuffed with macaroni and cheese!

 

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