Skip to Main Content

Journalism - David C. Novak Leadership Collection: About David C. Novak

David C. Novak Leadership Library Collection

David C. Novak is the Co-Founder, Retired Chairman and CEO of Yum! Brands, Inc. (Pizza Hut, KFC, and Taco Bell), one of the world’s largest restaurant companies with nearly 43,000 restaurants in more than 130 countries and territories. He stepped down as CEO on January 1, 2015 and retired from Yum! and Yum!’s Board in May 2016.

During his time as CEO, Yum! doubled in size and became a global powerhouse going from approximately 20% of its profits coming from outside the U.S. in 1997 to nearly 70% in 2014, while remaining an industry leader in return on invested capital.

His proudest achievement is that Yum! became renowned for its leadership development and recognition culture. He developed Taking People With You, a three-day leadership program I taught to more than 4,000 employees. He made recognition a priority through personalized awards. Whether it was a floppy chicken or chattering teeth, he recognized people in a unique way for their performance. Recognition is an integral part at Yum!

Prior to leading Yum!, he was President at KFC and Pizza Hut, and held senior positions at Pepsi-Cola Co., including COO and Executive Vice President of Marketing and Sales.  In May 2016, he founded OGO (O Great One!) a consumer lifestyle brand on a mission to turn the world on to the awesome power of recognition and remedy what he called the “global recognition deficit.”

His wife, Wendy, and David established the Lift a Life Foundation in 1999 to help people reach their potential through grants and programming. A core objective is leadership development and supporting hunger relief, education, juvenile diabetes, and the military. In 2012, Lift a Life Foundation and USA TODAY Charitable Foundation launched the Lead2Feed World Hunger Leadership Challenge to encourage middle and high school students to hone their leadership skills through hunger relief projects using lessons from my book “Taking People with You.” Lead2Feed is the nation’s leading and fastest growing free service learning program.  

To view eBooks in the collection -
To view Print Books in the collection

Read more about David Novak and his gift to MU. 


Photo Credit David R. Lutman for the New York Times