Why Employees Return to Pizza Hut

All companies experience turnover; employees leave the company for various reasons. It happens at Pizza Hut, too, but sometimes former employees return. We asked three of our corporate employees about their experiences and why they came back.

Kristen Sands, Sr. Manager, Pricing, started with Pizza Hut originally in 2004 as the print value analyst. During this time, she worked for the director of marketing before leaving in 2007 to follow a mentor to work at a newspaper on a subscriber loyalty program. After that, she went to work at a marketing/advertising agency, TracyLocke, on the Pizza Hut account. She returned to Pizza Hut in 2013 after her original coach reached out to her about another position, National Calendar Manager, on his team. She knew it was the right move to come back.

Going out to try something new in 2007 seemed like the right thing to do at the time. While at TracyLocke, she learned to look at marketing from the franchisee’s perspective, to understand what resources they were missing or unaware of, and their view versus the corporate view of the Pizza Hut business. When she returned to Pizza Hut she brought her knowledge with her, along with a new sense of commitment. She wanted a career, not just a job, and she knew Pizza Hut was where she wanted to grow her career. She enjoys the caliber of talent, the team-together culture and the expectation that you will use your creativity to get results. Since then she has continued to progress in her career on the Marketing team. Kristen believes, “If it is a new opportunity or career growth you are looking for, you can find it here if you look for it and push for it.”  

Naveen Dasa, Director, Franchise Business Development, got his start as an intern on the Strategy team in the summer of 2013 and returned for a fulltime position in 2014 as an associate manager on the Franchise Finance team. Wanting to be closer to his partner, family and friends in the northeast, Naveen decided to make a move in 2017. Pizza Hut had set the bar very high in terms of job fulfillment so he cold-called another restaurant company in New York City, hoping that staying within the restaurant industry would help preserve some part of the culture he enjoyed so much. While he did learn and grow at that company, he missed Pizza Hut. The culture and cross-functional work was hard to match. When he was considering a move back, he reached out to his former finance peers to understand the needs of the business and ultimately leaned on the Human Resources team to help find a role suited for him, which they did in May 2018. Less than a year later, he was promoted to his current role.

When asked what he would say to someone thinking of taking a role elsewhere, he shares that there are many factors that play into the decision—family, location, schools, weather, commutes and pay—and each one has some degree of importance to an individual. He would advise someone thinking of leaving just for a higher salary to realize that “if you have the freedom and privilege to consider more than pay, you should.”

Penny Shaheen, Sr. Director, Culinary Innovation & Strategy, felt like the luckiest person in the world in 1998, when she got her first job after college at Pizza Hut, working in Quality Assurance for Meats. But she had a dream of living in Greece with her family and traveling around Europe and the Middle East for a year, so she left a position she loved in 2005, then in Marketing Innovation, to follow her dream. While away, she kept up with her friends and colleagues at Pizza Hut and even completed a short contract assignment from Greece.

When she returned to the U.S. in the fall of 2006, she went to work for Dr Pepper Snapple Group (now Keurig Dr Pepper) in marketing innovation for one of her former Pizza Hut supervisors, knowing it was a good opportunity to learn the CPG business. She learned a lot of industry best practices in innovation and moved to the consumer insights team while there. 

A few years later, one of her good friends at Pizza Hut asked Penny to meet with her and the chief marketing officer for lunch about an open position. Once they started talking, Penny got excited about the new challenge and the prospect of coming back “home.”  Soon, she was back at Pizza Hut as Director of Consumer Insights and has since been promoted.

For Penny, leaving to pursue a personal dream helped her learn a lot about herself and her roots which could only be found in Greece. If someone she knew was thinking about leaving the brand, she would ask, “Are you running towards a dream or running away from something?” She suggests talking to a trusted leader who can help you determine if the next step is somewhere out there or can be found within the company.

Kristen, Naveen and Penny have no regrets about their decision to go and try something different, but they are very happy to have found their way back.

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