Big Interview

Chris Taylor,

CPO, Pizza Hut UK

Pizza Hut is part of Yum! which also includes KFC and Taco Bell – Chris Taylor has been with Yum! for ten years, nine with KFC and then the past year with Pizza Hut. He shares a very personal connection to the brand and reveals how the brand unleashes employee potential...

Interview by Jenny Holliday

Bringing personal experience with a brand into a role in HR is an unusual blend for CPO UK, Ireland and France, Chris Taylor. He shares future plans for the brand, which is about to turn 50, and his passion for recruitment.

What is your role and what does it involve?

I’m the Chief People Officer for Pizza Hut UK, Ireland and France, and I think I've got one of the - if not the - coolest jobs in the business because my job is all about making sure that we have the right environment for our incredible talent to flourish. We've got 500 restaurants in the UK operated by 37 franchise partners, and I work with all franchisees, helping and supporting them, creating the best environments for their talent to flourish. It’s an interesting challenge because there are varying levels of size and capability within those franchisees, so they each need something slightly different.

We've got the responsibility of being the custodians of the brand and so my role is also to make sure that we have an employee experience capability across the system that matches the popularity and the love for the brand. My team and I also run our restaurant support centre, which is in the head office.

We’ve got a three-year plan which is all about getting Pizza Hut back to where it rightfully should be given the popularity of the brand

What led you to make the move from KFC to Pizza Hut?

Yum! is such a big organisation with so many different brands operating all around the world that it gives people the opportunity to go out and experience different roles. Not being able to move internationally for family reasons meant that I could embrace the opportunity to do something different domestically, so when the Pizza Hut role came up it was a no-brainer for me. Nine years is a long time to be in one place, and I felt that to grow and continue to develop, this was the right move. We've got a new MD, and the rest of the leadership team is all really within its first year, so the opportunity to go in as the CPO and help craft that leadership team and help craft the transformation that we're taking the brand through was really exciting.

I've got a really deep connection with Pizza Hut. I grew up in the North East of England, and we moved to the South for my dad’s job, but every summer and October half term we'd go back and stay with my grandma and Grandad, and every time we did, we’d go to the Metro Centre and Pizza Hut. It became a tradition, and the last place we ever saw my Grandad was in the Metro Centre Pizza Hut when we'd taken our own children up there last October.

I managed to tell him that I was going to work at Pizza Hut because at that point I knew I was moving over (from KFC), and he was so happy.

What is the day-to-day of the role?

One of the things I enjoy most about this role is it is a complete mix. I colour code my diary based on the different types of activity that I've got scheduled, and there’s a rainbow of colours in my diary each week. I'll usually be out in restaurants meeting the teams once, maybe twice a week, or I'll have time scheduled with our key talent for one to ones in development coaching sessions. There's a lot of my diary which is nothing to do with HR, such as sitting in on the leadership team meetings around strategy, development, finance, and supply chain. The breadth of what I'm doing here is really interesting because we're a much leaner team, so I’m getting involved in a lot more than I'd previously have done.

We’ve got a three-year plan which is all about getting Pizza Hut back to where it rightfully should be given the popularity of the brand. When you have a clear vision and strategy mixed with brilliant flexibility in where we are, what we're doing and how we're getting there, it gives you a North Star.


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