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The Power List
Navin Sharma, chief commercial services officer for Inspire Brands

Inspire Brands' chief commercial services officer on how the company leverages data to grow its brands

Navin Sharma talks about fostering a culture of innovation. Meet the innovative, inclusive and industry changing leaders of the 2021 NRN Power List.

Navin Sharma, chief commercial services officer for Inspire Brands, was chosen for the NRN Power List by co-founder and CEO Paul Brown because of how he is equipping the company with “capabilities that will drive competitive advantage and long-term growth.” Here’s what else Brown had to say:

Navin Sharma is leading the development of Inspire’s comprehensive data and analytics architecture — the first of its kind in the restaurant industry. With an emphasis on creating tools that are real-time, granular, and self-learning, this strategic platform is at the forefront of Inspire’s competitive advantage in the marketplace.

In just under three years, the Inspire Commercial Services team has nearly quadrupled to include more than 120 team members who are building capabilities to benefit all facets of the business, from development and operations analytics, to loyalty and one-to-one marketing. As our brands adapt to our guests’ evolving needs, Commercial Services initiatives have helped drive nearly $2 billion in total digital sales in 2020 – representing nearly 100% growth year-over-year.

In a rapidly changing restaurant industry, Navin and his team are equipping the Inspire family with insights, analytics, and customer personalization capabilities that will drive competitive advantage and long-term growth for all our brands. 

Nation’s Restaurant News talked with Navin Sharma about navigating the challenges of 2020 while “fostering a culture of innovation.” Here’s what he had to say.

What are you most proud of as you look back at the challenges of the last year?

Through these extremely challenging times, I am most proud of how quickly our teams pivoted in March to meet the needs of our restaurant teams and franchisees. Early on, we activated a cross-functional COVID-19 task to share best practices across brands, identify creative solutions for immediate challenges, and adjust long-term plans.

Inspire’s investments in data and analytics and digital served as an important foundation for this work. Our Commercial Services team provided detailed data and analysis to inform real-time decision-making around restaurant marketing and operations. We also accelerated eCommerce and digital transformation to quickly drive value for our brands, [and] collectively grew our brand loyalty programs to more than 17 million members (prior to the acquisition of Dunkin’ Brands).


What does leadership and impact mean to you?

To me, being an effective leader means putting culture, structure, and processes in place to enable all members of the team to succeed. It’s about fostering a culture of innovation that encourages team members to take risks, test, and learn. Strong leadership should exist not just in the boardroom — leaders should create an environment where ideas can emerge and succeed at every level.

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