This website uses cookies. Learn more via our web privacy policy. For questions, please email
David C. Novak - Columbus State University Skip to Main Content
Leadership Institute Columbus State University The Forum

David C. Novak

David C. Novak

David C. Novak is Chairman and CEO of Yum! Brands, Inc., (NYSE: YUM), the world’s largest restaurant company in terms of system units with more than 39,000 restaurants in over 130 countries and territories. Yum! Brands is ranked #201 on the FORTUNE 500 list, with revenues of more than $13 billion in 2012.

The company’s restaurant brands – KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell – are the global leaders of the chicken, pizza and Mexican-style food categories. Yum! Brands employs 1.5 million company employees and franchise associates across its worldwide system. Outside the United States in 2012, the Yum! Brands system opened more than five new restaurants each day of the year, making it a leader in international retail development.

Novak shapes the company’s overall strategic direction, including four key growth strategies: 1) build leading brands across China in every significant category; 2) drive aggressive international expansion and build strong brands everywhere; 3) dramatically improve U.S. brand positions, consistency and returns; and 4) drive industry-leading, long-term shareholder and franchisee value. Since its spin-off from PepsiCo in 1997, Yum! Brands has established itself as a global powerhouse going from approximately 20 percent of its profits coming from outside the United States to more than 70 percent in 2012, while driving one of the highest returns on invested capital in the restaurant industry. In so doing, Yum! Brands has increased its share price ten times.

Additionally, Novak devotes much of his time each year to personally train leadership skills to the company’s management and franchisees, emphasizing teamwork and a belief in people that rewards and recognizes customer-focused behavior with his trademarked Taking People With You program. His book based on the highly successful program, TAKING PEOPLE WITH YOU: The Only Way to Make BIG Things Happen (January 2012), is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller and all of his proceeds go to the United Nations World Food Programme.

Prior to leading Yum! Brands, Novak was President at both KFC and Pizza Hut. He also held senior management positions at Pepsi-Cola Company, including Chief Operating Officer, and Executive Vice President of Marketing and Sales.

Novak has been recognized as “2012 CEO of the Year” by Chief Executive magazine, one of the world’s “30 Best CEOs” by Barron’s for the past three years, one of the “Top People in Business” by FORTUNE and one of the “100 Best-Performing CEOs in the World” by Harvard Business Review. He is the recipient of the 2012 UN World Food Program Leadership Award for Yum! Brands World Hunger Relief effort that raises awareness, volunteerism and funds to address this global problem. He also received the national 2008 Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship. Reporting to him are the Chief Executive Officer of Yum! China, the Presidents of Yum! Brands and Yum! Restaurants India and senior corporate officers. Novak is on the board of directors of the Yum! Brands Foundation and World Food Program USA. He is also a member of The Business Council and The American Society for Corporate Executives. He devotes considerable personal support to the United Nations World Food Programme and Dare to Care Food Bank hunger relief. Novak and his wife Wendy established the Lift a Life Foundation in 1999 to help individuals in need reach their full potential through grants and programming in the areas of hunger relief, education, juvenile diabetes, the military and family and youth issues. In 2012, Lift a Life Foundation and USA TODAY Charitable Foundation launched “Lead2Feed World Hunger Leadership Challenge” to encourage middle and high school students to hone their leadership skills through hunger relief projects using principles from TAKING PEOPLE WITH YOU. Approximately 1,500 schools participated during the inaugural 2012-2013 school year.