Tracy Skeans, the Chief Operating Officer and Chief People Officer of Yum! Brands, knows the importance of staying open to possibilities. “Early on in my career, I was presented with an opportunity to shift my career path from finance to human resources,” she recalled in a recent interview. "I ultimately said ‘yes’ to the risks and new challenges in front of me, and that decision led to even more exciting and rewarding opportunities.”
Considering her success in business leadership over the years, Skeans appears to have made the right decision by embracing the uncertain path. Today, in her dual position as COO and CPO, she has her hands in many sectors of Yum! Brands – the owner of household names like KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and more. Reporting directly to CEO David Gibbs, Skeans oversees global cross-brand collaboration while also being responsible for food safety, human resources, business transformation, equality, and communications. On top of that, she was one of the main figures that helped steer Yum! through the pandemic, while also positioning the company for the future by continuing to make acquisitions, increasing its digital acceleration, and focusing on diversity and inclusivity from top to bottom.
Skeans, who has been with the company for 20+ years, previously served as chief transformation and people officer, a role she held from 2016-2021. Under her stewardship, Yum! integrated The Habit Burger Grill and Heartstyles – a team member leadership development program. In 2019, she also played a central role in the spinoff of Yum China. Additionally, during the pandemic, her leadership was vital in mobilizing Yum! and its brands to protect the health, safety, and engagement of corporate and restaurant teams.
Before Yum!, Skeans was president of Pizza Hut International, which at the time was a business of more than 5,900 restaurants across more than 85 countries. In 2013, as Pizza Hut's chief people officer, Skeans was one of the primary architects of the separation of Yum! Restaurants International into the global brand divisions of KFC and Pizza Hut. Prior to her HR leadership roles, she spent the first half of her career in finance roles, including strategic planning, asset development, and accounting, at Pizza Hut.
In addition to her executive roles at Yum!, Skeans serves on the board of directors for the Brown-Forman Corporation and the Women’s Foodservice Forum. She holds an MBA from the Katz School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh and a Bachelor of Science in accounting from Lehigh University.