Today’s Women In Media profile is an absolute special treat. It’s KFC’s CMO Nikki Lawson. Here, Ms Lawson talks leadership, how the restraint chain is leading the environment charge; but. sadly, no news on those 11 secret herbs and spices…
As Shakespeare said, ‘it’s excellent to have a giant’s strength, but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant’… I define leadership as a privilege. I feel blessed to have been given so many great opportunities and wonderful people and brands to work with, I just want to do the opportunities justice.
On the KFC front I loved our #thehcg campaign over the cricket season…
It gave KFC an authentic own-able role in the game. The OPSM Penny the Pirate campaign I thought was a master stroke and I am also a big fan of the Aldi and Kmart work – it’s easy to get seduced by the sexy work done by premium brands, this is clever marketing.
My proudest career achievement is while working in the South African business we started the KFC charity, Add Hope, which was build off the belief that no child should ever go hungry…
It started as a modest fund that supported a handful of charities and through the determination of the KFC team, its franchisees and the KFCs customers this has grown into the single biggest hunger relief charity in Africa, adding hope to millions of children every year. Over the last couple of years we have aggressively reduced our environmental impacts by pioneering a number of environmental initiatives that I’m really proud of. In 2013, KFC Australia became the first quick service restaurant to open a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified restaurant at East Maitland in New South Wales. This year we opened our second LEED certifiable restaurant at Lidcombe, NSW. These new restaurants features state of the art recycling systems and lighting systems allowing us to reduce energy consumption by up to 70 per cent. I’m excited about the environmental commitment KFC is making and really proud of the progress to date.
My proudest personal achievement was…
Going on maternity leave and having built a team that meant I wasn’t missed!
I love how dynamic the industry is and have never been bored a day since I started working in it…
It’s also the great melting pot of left and right brain thinking, one day you might be pulling business cases and returns calculations together and the next you are judging the emotional pull of some creative work.
Top of my bucket list would be visiting the world’s top 100 restaurants…
If I wasn’t doing this role I’d be Dora the Explorer…travelling the world having adventures with my friends (can you tell I’ve got a two year old?) Outside of work, my passions are my family, running, food – cooking it and eating it.
When it comes to work, we have around 30,000 employees across the KFC system, many of them are young people…
Beyond the skills they need to work in our kitchens, it’s great to be able to teach young people soft business skills like how to work effectively in a team. In reality our business is in the hands of the employee and our formula for success is to put our people capability first and satisfied customers and profitability will follow. For this reason we have invested some $15 million in training and development across the organisation – we are passionate about helping young people excel and giving them every opportunity to be their best selves. KFC Australia is a company that is passionate and celebrates originality. This promise is also part of great leadership; encouraging everyone, from the head office leadership team to our cooks working in store, to be authentic and original in what they do every day – I think that resonates with both employees and customers.
We have huge influence and the opportunity to shape consumer sentiment like few other industries…
I guess the trick is in how we choose to use it.
The worst thing about working the industry is that your successes and failures are hugely public…
We’ve all made that bad ad that still makes us cringe!
I think we all have days when we wish the alarm would vanish and bury ourselves deeper under the doona…
But then you realise there are people counting on you to navigate a way forward and you pull yourself out, put on your big girl pants and give it a fresh go.
The best bit of advice I’ve even been given is…
To handle yourself use your head, to handle others use your heart.
If I could change anything about the industry it would be…
Could someone gift us all an extra six hours a day?
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