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Beverley D’Cruz has always been invested in having a positive impact on people’s lives and helping leaders find their purpose. Now, as Pizza Hut General Manager Middle East and Pakistan, she is in the perfect position to do both.
“When I got this role, it was super exciting because it gave me the opportunity to have an impact on multiple different fronts,” she tells The CEO Magazine.
“If leaders, brands and companies are to succeed in the future, they have to anchor themselves to purpose. I’m helping leaders to find their purpose, both for themselves and for the organization, and helping the brand in the region find its purpose.
“How can we be about something bigger than just pizza? How can we give back to our community?”
As the employer of thousands of people across the region, D’Cruz is well aware of the impact Pizza Hut has on people’s lives.
“I spoke recently to Nihal, an employee who works in our store in Qatar and who has spent 35 years working in our stores. Pizza Hut has helped two or three generations in their household go through school and on through life,” she says proudly.
“These are the pieces that give me a tremendous amount of joy.”
D’Cruz was appointed to her current role in March, making her the first female General Manager for fast food corporation Yum! Brands in the Middle East. But she had already had an impressive 16-year tenure with the company, where she started as a marketing manager.
She then moved to Canada where she again oversaw the Pizza Hut brand, followed by KFC.
“Most of my journey has been about transformation,” she says. “Businesses have been troubled or negative. Franchisees have been struggling and my job usually is to help them turn around the business.”
London was calling next – another transformation role where D’Cruz was tasked with bringing more consumers to the brand and getting the franchisees back to a profitable position.
“We got the business into positive momentum and then three years ago I moved back to the Middle East as Chief Brand Officer,” she says. A promotion soon followed, with D’Cruz appointed General Manager of the Middle East and Pakistan business. In each of her roles, she has been a transformative thought leader, driving more top-line growth.
“I’ve come full circle to the area where I started out as Brand Manager, and that gives me a lot of joy and pride in the business and how far it’s come,” she says.
Now D’Cruz is focusing on the future and setting ambitious growth targets for her team that build on the firm foundations laid out over the years.
“Pizza is a very dynamic category. People just love eating pizza, and the opportunities are absolutely endless,” she says.
“I believe we can double the business in three-to-five years, and I’m terribly excited about that opportunity, not just for the financial and monetary reasons, but because doubling the business means that there are that many more jobs we create for people in this region, that many more lives we impact, that many more people we make happy.”
This is where purpose comes in once again. D’Cruz firmly believes the company’s success is linked to its contribution to society, a combination she finds satisfying.
“We have a recipe for growth at Yum! Brands. We also have a recipe for good,” she explains, noting the recipe has three parts: people, planet and food.
“This recipe for good gets me even more excited than the recipe for growth,” she says. “I feel like they’re connected. If you do good, you grow. But if you grow, you also do good.”
Pizza Hut’s global Equal Slice for Everyone initiative is a great example of its efforts to make a difference and give back to the community.
“By nature, pizza is round, every slice is equal and therefore how do we give people in our community an equal slice at life?” she asks.
In 2021, D’Cruz and her team launched a program called LeadHERship in South Africa, where 200 women were given the opportunity to gain work experience, offering training in a range of areas from business management to creative skills.
“This gives these women an opportunity to get a job instead of being on the streets,” she explains. “Everyone deserves an equal chance of success.”
The company’s responsible approach doesn’t end there. With a growing number of consumers wanting to understand where their food comes from and the impact it will have on their bodies and on the planet, Pizza Hut has had to evolve.
Telling stories around the quality of ingredients used and the high standards it employs plays into this, as does working tirelessly to reduce its environmental impact, according to D’Cruz.
These efforts ripple out into its partner network, with the company ensuring that it works with businesses across the region with similar standards and vision, like Tanmiah Food Company and Universal Carton Industries.
“We are doing immense amounts of work on our packaging, on our carbon footprint, to make sure we are giving back to the planet,” she says.
“As the largest food company in the world, we have a responsibility to make sure that our food is sustainable and that we are protecting the planet. I am a mom of two sons. I want to make sure there is a planet for them in the next 50 years.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, D’Cruz attended an online executive training course at Harvard Business School, aimed at helping leaders unlock their purpose. This only reinforced her passion for helping others find their purpose.
“Purpose-driven leaders live a better, more meaningful life, and this contributes to better physical and mental health,” she notes. “You tend to live your life with more curiosity, try to seek out new habits that will help you create a difference in the world.”
The pandemic period also offered time for reflection and recalibration.
“The biggest thing I go after today is being happy and peaceful,” she says. “All the other things that used to be really important aren’t actually that important anymore. So I judge success by the joy and happiness that you can spread around.
“My leadership mantra is to be kind, be brave and be awesome. What else can you be?”