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Meet Joey Wat: Leading Yum China’s Innovations in the Restaurant Industry

Joey Wat, the Chief Executive Officer of Yum China Holdings, Inc., is a woman of remarkable achievements and unwavering compassion.

Women's Tabloid News Desk
Women's Tabloid News Desk

Yum China’s journey is a remarkable tale of growth and innovation. From its humble beginnings with a single restaurant in 1987 to its current status as a Fortune 500 company with over 14,100 restaurants across six brands, the company has undergone a transformative evolution under Joey’s stewardship. Today, Yum China serves over one-third of China’s population, a testament to its enduring appeal and widespread popularity.

Yum China Holdings, Inc. operates some of China’s most prominent restaurant brands, including KFC and Pizza Hut, alongside emerging brands like Taco Bell, Little Sheep, Huang Ji Huang, and Shaofaner. Additionally, the company has partnered with Lavazza to introduce and develop the Lavazza coffee shop concept in China. These brands have become deeply ingrained in local culture and are integral parts of customers’ daily lives.

With a vision to become the most innovative pioneer in the restaurant industry globally, Yum China continuously introduces new and upgraded products, launching approximately 500 of them in 2023 alone. This commitment to innovation aims to delight and surprise customers with unique offerings.

Moreover, Yum China has prioritized investments in technology and innovation. By the end of December 2023, the company boasted over 470 million members. Beyond enhancing the customer experience through digital initiatives, Yum China leverages technology to streamline operations, ensuring efficiency, agility, and adaptability. Embracing the rising trends in delivery and takeaways, the company capitalizes on its diverse menu offerings, hybrid delivery model, and extensive store network to meet evolving consumer preferences.

At the heart of Yum China’s success lies a commitment to sustainable practices and corporate responsibility. Joey Wat has championed initiatives that promote environmental stewardship, social equity, and economic development. The company’s dedication to sustainability has earned it numerous accolades, including top rankings in ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) performance and recognition from prestigious organizations like the United Nations Global Compact.

One of Yum China’s crowning achievements is its leadership in digital innovation. The launch of the KFC Super App for seniors in 2022 exemplifies the company’s commitment to inclusive growth. By leveraging AI technology and user-friendly interfaces, Yum China has created a platform that caters to diverse demographics while driving sales and customer engagement.

Who is Joey Wat?

  • Born in Fujian Province, China, Joey moved to Hong Kong at a young age.
  • Holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Hong Kong and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
  • Started her career in consulting, gaining valuable experience at firms like A.T. Kearney and McKinsey & Company.
  • Joined A.S. Watson Group UK in 2004, where she rose to the position of Managing Director.
  • Began her journey with Yum China in 2014 as the President of KFC China, eventually becoming CEO in 2018.

Career Path:

Joey’s professional journey began in the world of consulting, where she held pivotal roles at prestigious firms such as A.T. Kearney and McKinsey & Company. Her expertise in management consulting and strategic thinking laid the foundation for her future success. In 2004, Joey joined A.S. Watson Group UK, where she played a key role in strategic management and eventually rose to the position of Managing Director.

Entry into Yum China:

In 2014, Joey embarked on a new chapter in her career by joining Yum China. Her tenure at the company has been nothing short of transformative. Starting as the President of KFC China, Joey quickly rose through the ranks, showcasing her exceptional leadership skills and strategic vision. Her contributions to the company were instrumental in shaping its success, leading to her appointment as CEO in 2018.

Leadership Style:

Joey Wat’s leadership style is characterized by innovation, vision, and a deep commitment to excellence. She believes in fostering a culture of inclusivity and empowerment, where every voice is heard and valued. Her dedication to corporate social responsibility is evident in her decision-making, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic when she prioritized employee welfare over profits.

Achievements and Recognition:

Joey’s contributions to the business world have garnered widespread recognition, earning her a place in prestigious lists such as Forbes’ “The World’s Most Powerful Women” and Fortune Magazine’s “Most Powerful Women in Business.” Her impact extends beyond business, inspiring individuals to lead with integrity, empathy, and purpose.

Leading Yum China’s Innovations:

Under Joey Wat’s leadership, Yum China has become a beacon of innovation in the restaurant industry. From pioneering digital initiatives like the KFC Super App to spearheading sustainable growth practices, Joey’s vision has propelled the company to new heights of success. Yum China’s commitment to sustainability, inclusivity, and technological advancement reflects Joey’s values and principles.

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