Popeyes CEO is Featured Speaker at Tobias Leadership Conference

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Cheryl Bachelder, the CEO of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Inc. and a Kelley School of Business alumna, will be a featured speaker at the fifth annual Tobias Leadership Conference at The Alexander Hotel in Indianapolis.

The Tobias Leadership Conference, April 30 to May 2, brings together scholars and practitioners from the entire spectrum of leadership, including corporate, not-for-profit, religious, educational, medical and political leadership.

Under Bachelder’s leadership, Popeyes has experienced unprecedented growth and financial performance. With a current market cap of $1.37 billion, Popeyes shares are up 344 percent since Bachelder took the reins of the fast food giant in November 2007. Bachelder’s keynote address, "Dare to Serve — How to drive superior results by serving others," is based on her recently released book by the same title, which chronicles the tenets of the Popeyes turnaround.

“My message is simple but unconventional,” Bachelder writes in her book. “If you move yourself out of the spotlight and dare to serve others, you will deliver superior performance results.”

She describes the selfless service of the manager able to do this as being “a different kind of leader with a rare combination of traits, courageous enough to take the people to a daring destination, yet humble enough to selflessly serve others on the journey.”

Bachelder has been widely recognized for her leadership during the past several years, having been honored as the Leader of the Year by Women’s Food Service Forum in 2012, as well the Golden Chain Award recipient from Nation’s Restaurant News, a trade publication which serves the foodservice industry.

Bachelder’s four key principles for growing the Popeyes franchise are building a distinctive brand, running great restaurants, growing restaurant profits and ramping up new unit growth.

“We decided to chase a really brave destination to grow our company,” Bachelder said of Popeyes' success during a recent "Fox Business" segment. “We had a bold aspiration for the company.”

She started her collegiate career at Indiana University as a piano major. But following business trips with her father to South Korea and Japan after her freshman year, Bachelder returned to Indiana and enrolled in a joint B.S. and MBA program, graduating in 1978. She began her career in brand management with Procter & Gamble and got her first taste of the fast-food sector when she joined Domino’s in 1995 as the chain’s vice president of marketing and product development, a role she held for five years.

The Tobias Leadership Conference: A Multi-Sectored Forum on the Theory and Practice of Leadership will feature papers and panels from all academic disciplines. A primary purpose of this conference is to promote interdisciplinary collaboration and facilitate the exchange of ideas on the broad subject of leadership.

Other notable keynote speakers at this year’s conference include:

  • Leonard Wong, research professor of military strategy in the Strategic Studies Institute at the U.S. Army War College.
  • Joanne Ciulla, Coston Family Chair in Leadership and Ethics at the University of Richmond (Va.).
  • Barbara Kellerman, James McGregor Burns Lecturer in Public Leadership at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  • Allan Aubrey Boesak, the Desmond Tutu Chair of Peace, Global Justice and Reconciliation Studies at the Christian Theological Seminary.
  • Randall L. Tobias, Indiana University trustee and chairman emeritus of Eli Lilly and Co.
  • Richard Gunderman, Chancellor’s Professor of Radiology, Pediatrics, Medical Education, Philosophy, Liberal Arts, Philanthropy, and Medical Humanities and Health Studies at Indiana University.
  • Frank Barrett, professor of management and global public policy at the Naval Postgraduate School.

The conference will begin the evening of April 30. Multiple sessions will be held Friday and Saturday, May 1 and 2, consisting of speaker presentations, panel discussions and research presentations concerning the broad topic of leadership. There will also be a gala dinner on Friday evening.