WASHINGTON, Dec. 4, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc., a nonprofit educational organization honoring the achievements of outstanding individuals and encouraging youth to pursue their dreams through higher education, today announced that David C. Novak, Chairman and CEO, Yum! Brands, Inc., has been selected for membership in the prestigious organization. Mr. Novak joins eleven other accomplished business and civic leaders from across North America in receiving this honor in 2015. Since its establishment in 1947, the Horatio Alger Award is annually bestowed upon renowned leaders who have succeeded, despite facing adversity, and who are committed to both philanthropy and higher education.
Mr. Novak was born in Beeville, Texas and lived a nomadic childhood. His father's job consisted of marking latitudes and longitudes for mapmakers, so every three months, Mr. Novak's family would pack up and move their 40-foot trailer to the next small town. By seventh grade, he had lived in 32 trailer parks in 23 states. With the support and encouragement of his parents, Mr. Novak was the first person in his family to get a college education, graduating from the University of Missouri in 1974 with a degree in journalism and a major in advertising. Following graduation, he married his college sweetheart, Wendy, with only $19 in the bank. He joined an advertising agency in D.C. as a copywriter while working as a night desk clerk for Holiday Inn. Mr. Novak later joined Ketchum to work on Heinz and then Tracy Locke to manage PepsiCo's Frito-Lay and Doritos accounts. Shortly thereafter he became Chief Marketing Officer of PepsiCo's Pizza Hut division, and then Executive Vice President of Marketing and Sales for Pepsi-Cola. He created award-winning marketing campaigns for Pepsi and Mountain Dew and moved Pepsi from carbonated soft drinks to a total beverage company. He became COO of Pepsi-Cola, then CEO of KFC U.S., and later CEO of both KFC and Pizza Hut U.S. In 1997, PepsiCo spun off KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell and Mr. Novak became Vice Chairman and President of the new company – Yum! Brands. He was promoted to CEO in 1999, and Chairman in 2000. He transitions to Executive Chairman on January 1, 2015.
Mr. Novak has been recognized as "2012 CEO of the Year" by Chief Executive magazine, one of the world's "30 Best CEOs" by Barron's, one of the "Top People in Business" by FORTUNE and one of the "100 Best-Performing CEOs in the World" by Harvard Business Review. He has built Yum! into one of the world's largest restaurant companies, doubling its size to 40,000 restaurants in 125 countries with 1.5 million employees. Under Mr. Novak's leadership since its spin-off from PepsiCo in 1997, Yum! Brands has established itself as a global powerhouse going from approximately 20 percent of its profits coming from outside the United States to nearly 70 percent in 2013, while remaining an industry leader in return on invested capital. In so doing, the Company's stock has risen almost 16 percent annually and its market capitalization has grown from $4.4 billion to $34.4 billion. Additionally, Mr. Novak devotes much of his time each year to personally train leadership skills to the Company's management and franchisees, emphasizing teamwork and a belief in people that rewards and recognizes customer-focused behavior with his trademarked Taking People With You program. His book based on the highly successful program, TAKING PEOPLE WITH YOU: The Only Way to Make BIG Things Happen (January 2012), is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller. He has donated all of his proceeds from the book, along with the proceeds of his autobiography, THE EDUCATION OF AN ACCIDENTAL CEO: Lessons Learned from the Trailer Park to the Corner Office, as well as speaking engagement fees to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), raising close to $2 million for hunger relief.
"Horatio Alger, Jr. wrote stories about hard work being the key to success, and no one embodies that more than David Novak," said Tony Novelly, president and CEO, Horatio Alger Association and 2000 Horatio Alger Award recipient. "Despite the transience of his early years, his ability to quickly adapt and seize opportunities allowed him to succeed in situations that might have defeated others. His remarkable career, rooted in an unshakeable belief in himself, and his exceptional generosity make Mr. Novak a natural selection for the Horatio Alger Award and we proudly welcome him as a lifetime Member of the Association."
Mr. Novak has made considerable contributions to the fight against world hunger. Under his leadership, Yum! has raised and donated $600 million in cash and food since 2007 to the WFP and other relief agencies. He is on the board of WFP USA and is a recipient of the 2012 UN World Food Program Leadership Award and the 2008 Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship. Mr. Novak and his wife Wendy established the Lift a Life Foundation in 1999, and have helped thousands in need with hunger relief, early childhood education, juvenile diabetes, military family support and leadership development. The couple also founded the Wendy L. Novak Juvenile Diabetes Center in Louisville, where they reside. In 2012, Lift a Life Foundation and USA TODAY Charitable Foundation launched "Lead2Feed World Hunger Leadership Challenge" to encourage middle and high school students to hone their leadership skills through hunger relief projects using principles from TAKING PEOPLE WITH YOU. Since its inception, nearly half a million middle and high school students at more than 2,500 schools and clubs have participated in the "Lead2Feed World Hunger Leadership Challenge" for a chance to win over $250,000 in prize money grants to student teams for U.S. public charities engaged in hunger relief programs.
In accepting this honor, Mr. Novak commented, "It is both humbling and a privilege to be selected as a Member of the Horatio Alger Association. It's crucial for every leader to know who they are and where they've been. Growing up, even though my family moved around a lot, I was fortunate to have the kind of loving and encouraging parents you could only dream of. I've also been lucky to work for world-class coaches throughout my career and have had an incredible partner for 40 years, my wife Wendy. All of these amazing experiences and people have shaped my leadership style and passion to give back to others. I strongly believe in the Association's mission and I look forward to supporting their ongoing commitment to develop the next generation of American leaders."
In addition to presenting its annual award, Horatio Alger Association administers one of the largest, privately-funded scholarship programs for students in the United States and Canada. These students, like the Members, have faced significant adversities, but have persevered and are determined to overcome life's challenges. Scholarships are wholly funded through private donations from Members, Life Partners and friends, and since 1984, the Association has provided more than $100 million to promising students in need.
Mr. Novak and the Member Class of 2015 will be officially welcomed into the organization during the 68th Annual Horatio Alger Award Induction Ceremonies in Washington, D.C. April 9-11, 2015. In addition to recognizing these tremendous leaders, Horatio Alger Association will also honor its 2015 National Scholarship recipients, affording both groups the opportunity to meet and learn from one another.
For more information about Horatio Alger Association and a full list of its Class of 2015, please visit www.horatioalger.org.
About Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans:
Founded in 1947, the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc., fulfills its mission of honoring the achievements of outstanding individuals who have succeeded in spite of adversity and of encouraging young people to pursue their dreams through higher education. Horatio Alger Association supports students through annual undergraduate and graduate need-based scholarships and mentoring programs across the United States and Canada. Since 1984, the Association has awarded more than $100 million in college scholarships to deserving young people. For more information, please visit www.horatioalger.org.
SOURCE Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc.