Make Burger King the setting for Survivor and Cindy Syracuse would be the one walking away with a cool million.
Just passing her ninth anniversary at Burger King Corp., she has outlasted, outwitted and outplayed seven CEOs, a slew of marketing directors and flourished alongside Global Chief Marketing Officer Chris Clouser and his cronies.
In fact, the newly elevated senior director of marketing communications was plucked by Mr. Clouser to be his right hand even as he replaced most of the existing staff with his own team, comprised of alumni from Northwest Airlines, where he and Burger King CEO John Dasburg previously worked.
Getting things done
"I'm one of the few non-Northwest people on staff," she quips. Ms. Syracuse, 34, is in charge of getting things done, from making a market test happen quickly to helping the No. 2 burger chain separate from parent Diageo.
Far more than an expediter on the chain's marketing crew, she has complete access to Mr. Clouser, co-workers say. Consistent with Mr. Clouser's political roots as a senatorial campaign manager, Ms. Syracuse likens her role to chief of staff. Much of her work now involves communicating with franchisees, managing the corporate presence at a series of 16 road shows to gain support for the brand's March relaunch.
In her first post at Burger King as a technical supervisor, Ms. Syracuse wrote speeches for then-CEO Jim Adamson. Then, as a junior manager, she helped develop the "food and music" ad campaign under the Paul Clayton regime.
In 1998, the executive moved into kids marketing, where she fought to sign a promo deal with the Teletubbies to counter McDonald's Corp.'s Beanie Babies, and helped launch Big Kids Meals and a toddler program.
In 2000, she became director of Internet and adult promotions. As for her next job, she's "completely open."
"I didn't know this job was coming," she said, "and it's been great, so I can only hope the next job will be the same."