Kathryn Austin, Chief people and marketing officer, Pizza Hut Restaurants
Paul Creber, September 17, 2018
Kathryn Austin has played a core leadership role in Pizza Hut's brand turnaround
In April 2018 she was part of the executive team that led the successful change of ownership of Pizza Hut Restaurants from Rutland Partners. The transaction was supported by debt financing provided by Pricoa. The purchase demonstrates a long-term leadership commitment and personal investment in the much-loved Pizza Hut brand.
Austin’s challenge has been to radically change the customer and team experience to re-position the brand as appealing to Millennials while remaining a family favourite. Her joint HR and marketing role is a manifestation of the business’ view that the frontline Hut teams best represent the Pizza Hut brand, and a core belief that your guest is never going to feel happier than the team members serving them.
Culturally the business has been turned on its head; with an empowered frontline determining investment plans and every team member able to contribute to head office decision-making via internal social media. Service and people are at the heart of the turnaround story, which has achieved many accolades including Papa recognising Pizza Hut as the 'Best Restaurant Chain’ in the UK for two consecutive years.
Austin is now on a mission to reposition the reputation of the entire industry, making hospitality a career of choice for school- and college-leavers.
Prior to working for Pizza Hut Restaurants, Austin worked in the finance sector for 10 years with Lloyds TSB and Barclays. Her last role involved working on the people elements of the Lloyds TSB/HBOS merger. She started her career on a general management graduate programme with British Airways.
She is a chartered member of the CIPD with a Master's degree in personnel and development. She also holds a Master's of English language and literature from the University of St Andrews and University of California Berkeley. Her love of good food and service goes back a long way – her claim to fame was once winning Young Cook of Great Britain and judging junior Masterchef.
HR magazine article: HR staff at Pizza Hut try working at restaurants
Telegraph article: Pizza Hut’s crazy new menu lets you order with your mind