Red Lobster names Kelli Valade as next CEO
Red Lobster is the world's largest seafood restaurant company, headquartered in Orlando, Florida, with a revenue of $2.6b, the company is focused on serving ‘traceable, sustainable and responsibly-sourced’ seafood.
A Red Lobster leader to inspire frontline restaurant heroes
Valade has been passionate about the restaurant industry since the age of 16, when she landed her first restaurant job as a hostess.
“I love the restaurant industry because it’s about so much more than great food – it’s about the great people who are truly heroes on the frontlines of the restaurants delivering a great experience to guests every day”, said Valade. “Red Lobster has incredible people and an amazing culture in place, along with a solid business model and a strong foundation as an iconic and differentiated brand. My job as the brand’s new leader is to inspire and develop our people while also leveraging the brand’s strengths and finding ways to build on them for even greater success. I am looking forward to a very bright future together.”
After her entry level job as a hostess, Kelli spent 22 years at Brinker International, serving as:
- Brand President for Chili's Grill & Bar
- Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President of Human Resources.
- Later, as President, Valade was responsible for 80,000+ ChiliHeads and 1,600 restaurants.
From 2019, Valade then served as President and CEO at Black Box Intelligence.
Integrity and commitment are top qualities for a CEO
“When I announced my plan to retire, I promised our people we would recruit an outstanding new CEO to lead Red Lobster to even greater success over the next generation, and I absolutely believe Kelli is that person,” said Lopdrup. “Her experience and deep industry insights coupled with her integrity and commitment to fostering a purpose-driven culture are the perfect fit as we begin this new chapter. I have never been more excited about Red Lobster’s future.”
“We are delighted to welcome Kelli as Red Lobster’s next CEO”, said Rittirong Boonmechote, Red Lobster Chairman. “She has proven that she can lead large casual dining companies very successfully, and she brings all the key skills that we were hoping to find. She is the ideal leader to help fulfill our vision of making Red Lobster ‘Where the world goes for seafood, now and for generations.’”
Valade currently serves on the boards of:
- The National Restaurant Association Education Foundation (NRAEF)
- Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF)
- The Board of Trustees for the Shelton School in Dallas.
In addition, she has also received several industry recognitions:
- The Western Foodservice and Hospitality Expo’s Beacon Award, in 2016
- Named Woman Worth Watching by The Dallas Business Journal, in 2013
- The “Distinguished Alumni” award from Binghamton University, where she was also honoured for her impact in business and in the restaurant industry, in 2020.
Deliveroo boss, Will Shu, goes undercover as food courier
The co-founder of Deliveroo, Will Shu, has taken a humble approach to leading the company, by delivering food to customers himself to find out what his employees deal with. On one recent trip, he noted how restaurant staff were ‘rude’ to him when he pointed out that the food he was due to deliver was cold.
Co-founder Will Shu is based in London. The University of Pennsylvania graduate hatched Deliveroo in 2012, with the target of getting local restaurant meals to hungry people quickly. The company has a revenue of £476m.
Please tell your staff to smile, says Deliveroo boss
The Deliveroo app allows users to order takeaway food, which is then delivered by independent food couriers, often cyclists in weather-proof backpackers, to a house, place of work or even a public location. The company is now active in 12 countries and has helped many through the stress of the pandemic by delivering delicious meals to the doorstep.
Shu has chosen to do several undercover rounds and he told The Diary of a CEO podcast that on one delivery in Notting Hill, he was rudley disregarded by the staff of an eatery where he collected the food.
“I did five deliveries last night in Notting Hill. I’m not like a celebrity so no one recognises me. Then I got the food and it was kind of cold, and I’m like ‘hey, you know this food’s kind of cold’ and they were like ‘just deliver it buddy.”
Shu refused to name the location but said he would tell their bosses about the incident.
“We need to figure out a way to get this to work. Please tell your staff just smile, say ‘hey, how are you doing’. It makes a big difference in people’s days.”
Deliveroo set to expand its business with new tech roles
Deliveroo has recently announced that it will create 400 high-skilled tech jobs, to support its rapid growth and to help restaurants improve efficiency.
The company is seeking to hire across a range of skill sets including software engineers, product managers, user researchers, designers, and even data scientists.