When NRN set out to publish its second annual list of the 50 most powerful people in foodservice — the 2015 Power List — I knew from the get-go who would be our No. 1 pick.
I kept my mouth shut (and yes, it was hard) because we work as a team here, we talk to sources, we gut-check each other, and we let top industry news and trends determine where we go and who needs to be on our list down to the wire.
This year’s Power List is a bit different than our inaugural list in 2014. This year we focused on leaders who are effecting change, who hold the power to change not just companies, brands or the customer experience, but to change the foodservice landscape as we know it. Today may be the most rapidly changing time in business history. There are many in the restaurant industry who are working off of — scratch that, who are creating — totally new playbooks to drive sales, build customer engagement and, frankly, gain trust with a consumer that has been growing greener, becoming more aware of business practices and eagerly exploring the origins of food.
Our No. 1 Power List executive is Greg Creed, CEO of one of the largest restaurant companies in the world, Yum! Brands Inc. As I knew from the beginning, and as our research and conversations came to bear out, Creed exemplifies the new thinking a restaurant leader needs today to take the industry into tomorrow.
At the Yum investor conference in December, I was impressed — as I often am when I hear Creed speak — that he had broken down so simply what brands need today to win. Brands need to be, he said:
• More relevant
• More engaged
• More connected
• More caring
We used similar filters at NRN when selecting our 50 Power List executives. Who is driving today’s most relevant brands? Who is engaging with customers more than others? Who is connecting people in the industry to facilitate growth? And who is showcasing leadership by caring? We looked for new names and faces to give our audience a look at not just the biggest players, but also the freshest.
NRN itself also looked to be more relevant with one of our most popular features of the year, and we connected with our audience to gather nominees for the Power List. More than 130 responses came in through NRN.com and you’ll see that entire list online soon. (We went through every one, and some of your picks made our list, too.)
The conversation doesn’t end here. Follow our Power List discussions on Twitter and look out for a Facebook chat with yours truly as I answer your questions and break down our Power List selections and rankings. An old-school e-mail or letter never hurts, either, and I’m eager to hear your feedback. The names left on the cutting room floor were plentiful this year, but I’m confident that once again NRN has created the definitive list of power players shaping the future of foodservice.