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The Forum

2021 Leadership Reinvented

Kat Cole

Advisor, Investor, Former COO and President, Focus Brands

Sharing the story of her accelerated rise up the corporate ladder, from her start working as a hostess to leading some of the world's best-known food brands, Kat Cole provides insight and perspective on what it takes to create and lead successful teams, drive innovation and growth, lead with heart and sustain excellence.

Kat Cole is known as a "Connected-Creative-Conscious-Community building Capitalist, and Coffee-loving Chronic Learner" - this not only describes her as a person, it describes the philosophies she applies to business, brands and life. She is a YGL (Young Global Leader) of the World Economic Forum, a past member of the United Nations Global Entrepreneurs Council, was featured on CBS' Undercover Boss, and named to Fortune's 40 Under 40.

As COO and President of Focus Brands, the owner, franchisor and operator of global limited service food brands, doing billions in product sales in over 50 countries, she led the company's 7 brands: Cinnabon, Auntie Anne's, Moe's, Schlotzsky's, McAlister's, Carvel and Jamba with 6800 operations globally. She also led the multi-brand licensing/ CPG and international business, with a total of 9 presidents of businesses reporting to her. She is formerly president of Cinnabon Inc. and past Group President Focus Brands. Prior to her roles with FOCUS Brands at Cinnabon, Inc., Ms. Cole was vice president of training and development at Hooters. Kat is also an advisor and board member for wellness, consumer product and technology companies. She is on the board of directors for Milk Bar, HumanCo SPAC, and Slice.

Kat dropped out of college at 20. She later received her MBA from Georgia State University and an honorary doctorate from Johnson and Wales University. Her journey from restaurant hostess at 17, executive by 26, president by 32, and investor by 35 is often shared as an example of the American and entrepreneurial dream.