Kat's Open Road

KAT COLE

COO & President, North America
FOCUS Brands

“Follow the compelling alternative...you can always go back to make up for what you’ve chosen to forgo.”

INTERESTS:

Business Entrepreneurship

THEMES DISCUSSED:

Dedication Hard Work Character Success Pride Community Values Opportunity Support & Encouragement Culture Choices

FOUNDATION:

Learning / Being Challenged

BIOGRAPHY:

  • Was raised by a single mother who struggled with alcoholism, so she had the responsibility of helping raise her sisters from a young age.
  • She was the first person on either side of her family to get into college, and she didn’t have any examples of family members working in “white collar” jobs.
  • Started out as an electrical engineering and computer science major, but dropped out before the end of her second year to pursue a job opportunity for Hooters, opening franchises around the world.
  • Has worked in the foodservice industry her whole life, starting from the bottom and working her way up—asks, “Who better to run the business than someone who knows every piece of it?”
  • Became an executive at Hooters of America when she was 26—she experienced imposter syndrome because, in boardrooms, she was usually the youngest, the only woman, and the one with the least education.
  • Decided to go back to school to pursue her MBA at Georgia State University, which she received without ever having earned a bachelor’s degree.
  • Was recruited by FOCUS Brands when she was 31 to become the president of Cinnabon.
  • She is now the president and COO of FOCUS Brands—credits her success to getting involved with rapidly growing companies and constantly desiring to learn more.

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