How former Popeyes CEO Cheryl Bachelder is helping leaders navigate the coronavirus pandemic
Cheryl Bachelder has held many big roles during her career, and the former marketer and CEO is now busy helping leaders navigate what she calls the “lose-lose” decisions they must make during the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic.
“There is no one leading in these times that’s seen anything like it before,” Bachelder says on the latest episode of Ad Age’s Marketer’s Brief podcast.
Bachelder, the former CEO of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and author of the book “Dare to Serve,” says the options leaders face such as how to stay open, keep employees and customers safe and maintain their businesses for the long term, are “lose-lose” decisions because of the tension they carry.
Bachelder currently sits on the boards of three companies trying to navigate the pandemic: struggling retailer Pier 1, food distributor US Foods and Chick-fil-A, which she calls “the best restaurant operator in the world.” She also mentors CEOs behind the scenes.
“Interestingly, companies don’t always look to the marketer as the CEO or general manager. I think it’s an opportunity missed,” she says.
Bachelder spent the first half of her career in marketing before moving up the corporate ladder. “It was an incredibly good training ground for general management because it was strategy,” Bachelder says.
She began in brand management at Procter & Gamble, then held roles in the packaged food industry before heading into restaurant marketing at Domino’s in 1995. Bachelder was one of Ad Age’s inaugural Women to Watch in 1997, while she was with Domino’s.
Then came a less than stellar run as president of KFC. “It’s a publicly known fact that I got fired from that job,” Bachelder says. She says the issues she faced in that role helped her persevere. “Success may not teach us everything we need, but a good failure can quickly prepare you for the future,” she says.
Bachelder later joined Popeyes, leading an overhaul and, ultimately, the 2017 sale of the company to Restaurant Brands International. “We really made the franchise owner the center of that turnaround,” says Bachelder.
Hear more from Bachelder in the podcast above.
Ad Age wants to continue recognizing women in the advertising, marketing and media community, even during these challenging times. We are keeping Women to Watch open for nominations, as we believe it’s still important to find ways to celebrate and stay connected. In light of current events, we have extended early-bird pricing until April 21.