We all know that representation matters, and this is especially important in business. In a new series for 2023, Pizza Hut LLC is showcasing one of its franchisees for each heritage month (Black History Month, Women’s History Month, etc.) to have a chance to get to know them more personally; learn more about their culture, background and traditions; and celebrate the diversity represented within the Pizza Hut® System.
For Women’s History Month, we sat down with Pizza Hut franchisee Premila Vishwanath, owner of Tex Food, LLC, to learn more about her background and career journey, hear some of the challenges she’s faced in business and discover what advice she would give aspiring business owners.
Tell us a little more about your career and growth journey with the company.
“I began my career at a Taco Bell restaurant in California, working my way up to a position at the corporate office. After 15 years of working at Taco Bell and Yum! Brands, I expressed my desire to become a franchisee and now, I’ve been a Pizza Hut franchisee for 12 years – growing from four restaurants to 14. It’s been a great journey so far and very rewarding – I’m surprised how time flies. I guess you don’t realize how quick time is going when you enjoy what you do. I’ve been on the IPHFHA board for a year now (thank you to all my fellow franchisees who nominated and elected me!), and it’s been a privilege to serve the franchise community.”
What made you choose to be a Pizza Hut franchise owner?
“After many years at Yum! Brands, I had the opportunity to become a franchisee for Pizza Hut. Through my positive experiences with Yum! Brands, I was sure that starting my first franchise with Pizza Hut was the right decision. I’m extremely grateful to those who assisted and supported me to get where I am today. Transitioning from a corporate employee to a franchisee, I was provided with guidance and advice by various members of the Pizza Hut community. Throughout my 12 years of experience as a franchisee, I can say that the company’s mentorship and ongoing support has made the process of being a Pizza Hut franchise owner achievable.”
As a female business owner, have you experienced any career challenges and, if so, how did you overcome them?
“Although there have been hardships in my career, I would say that I did well for myself as a woman and a minority to be able to climb the corporate ladder. However, that is not to say I haven’t experienced some hardships along the way as a female entrepreneur, especially around growth opportunities. There is undeniably a gap in the number of female franchisees across the food industry as a whole and I hope to be a driving force in closing the gap. Also, there are always going to be career challenges, but the way you react to them determines how quickly or easily you can overcome them. I am a very persistent person, and I never lose sight of my career goals. I have to say persistence and tenacity are how I have been able to overcome any challenges I’ve faced.”
How do you measure success?
“To measure one’s success, you have to first define what success looks like to you, as it is a relative term. For me, success is being in a better state than where I was before, growing with the brand, and developing and taking my tenured and loyal employees to grow with me.”
How do you support diverse communities and what can other business leaders do to provide more support and create a more inclusive community?
“At Tex Food, LLC, we believe in creating a culture of inclusivity and do not tolerate discrimination of any kind. I think every leader knows that the company culture starts at the top with them. Business leaders should connect with employees and provide employees a safe space to provide feedback. Leaders can also recognize other’s potential, regardless of their background, and foster/develop these potentials into valuable skills. This helps make all employees feel valued and feel like their cultural differences are being celebrated. My humble beginning, along with my empathy, creates a safe space for my team to reach out to me at any time.”
Who is a woman that has been your biggest inspiration – both in life and business?
“I have always admired Indra Nooyi, former CEO of Pepsi, since she is an Indian-born American businesswoman like me. When listening to her interviews, I often relate to both her professional and personal experiences. She has talked about being promoted because of her hard work, something that inspires me because I have always placed a great importance on putting in time and effort to accomplish my goals. I also want to add that the Pizza Hut System has a few women who are respected by both men and women in the System that I also respect highly. To name a couple: Joyce Lunsford, Pizza Hut franchisee; and Lauren Leahy, Pizza Hut’s former Chief Legal Officer (now General Manager of Pizza Hut Canada). They both inspire me and serve as excellent examples of powerful and accomplished women in business.”
What do women need to succeed in business?
“First and foremost, women have to believe in themselves. Women should network to build relationships with other sophisticated and experienced business owners and potential mentors. Regardless of position or status, it is important to never stop learning. Additionally, women should not be afraid to ask questions, speak up, and share their perspectives. Lastly, I think women need to be persistent.”
What is your best piece of advice for other women wanting to start their own business or become a franchisee?
“Do your research and find a concept/franchise that has a good reputation for how they treat their franchisees. You want to be associated with a brand/concept whose culture is positive and one that encourages diversity. Don’t be afraid to take risks. No one achieves greatness without taking risks. If you dream it, if you want it, go get it.”
Is there a quote that motivates you?
“I have three favorites –
- Motivation gets you started but habit keeps it going.
- The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will.
- Gratitude is the best attitude.
If you could tell your child-self some advice, what would it be?
“Do not be afraid of new opportunities to grow or diversify. Anything can be achieved if you put your mind and heart to it.”