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Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives
Cheryl Whiting Kish Hoa Brands

Cheryl Whiting-Kish

Chief People Officer

HOA Brands

Location: Atlanta

Founded: 1983

Industry: Restaurant - Hospitality

As the chief people officer of HOA Brands, Cheryl Whiting-Kish said mentoring the next generation in the industry draws from her own journey. That journey began in 1987 as a Hooters Girl and progressed through operations management. Quickly, she was promoted to vice president of HR and training as the first female vice president in the company’s history and ultimately as the chief people officer.

Hooters of America LLC (HOA) is the franchisor and operator of more than 410 Hooters restaurants in 38 states and 24 countries. HOA Brands is a leader in the restaurant/hospitality industry with high profile concepts including Hooters of America, Hoots Wings by Hooters and Hootie’s Burger Bar.

Since being recognized as a Titan 100 in 2023, Whiting-Kish’s most significant accomplishment has been launching various internal initiatives aimed at increasing team member retention and engagement. “Through these efforts, I aimed to decrease employee turnover and elevate the overall employee experience,” she said. “By encouraging team members to bring their full, unique selves to the workplace, I created a more empowering productive and positive Hooters environment.”

As a result, the company reduced employee turnover by 10% and 66% of operation leaders came up from within the brand. With the economic downturn, Whiting-Kish said business leaders have faced daily headwinds that made 2023 a challenge.

“Over the past year, I have learned how to remain a steady force despite the world around me,” Whiting-Kish said. “Believing that members of the community can all lean on each other to overcome these obstacles, I show up to work every day motivated to make a difference in other people’s lives and I strive to create an atmosphere where guests and employees can enjoy themselves, reinforcing our brand promise that Hooters Makes You Happy.”

Whiting-Kish said that her personal journey through the Hooters brand is proof that a positive career journey can start from anywhere. “Whether that be a Hooters Girl (like me) or a dishwasher (like our CEO, Sal), I want all team members to know that working at Hooters provides them with a platform and experience to launch a successful career with or beyond the brand,” she said.

This focus includes engaging powerful female influence through the Hooters Women in Leadership Forum to celebrate, elevate, educate and empower the women of the brand. “The forum provides a unique opportunity for women, an underrepresented population in the food industry, to share their success stories and inspire each other to work toward their career goals,” said Whiting-Kish. “I am blessed to be able to create excitement in others therefore creating teams that are the best of the best.”

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Did you know?

I am a Maximizer. I am a visionary. I am blessed to be able to create excitement in others therefore creating teams that are the best of the best. I pride myself in my ability to identify talent, seek out individual strengths and then develop others to reach highest potential. I am proud as I look back over my career of those who I have worked and collaborated with and how successful they are today.

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