Chief Data Officer, Yum! Brands
Cameron Davies earned his MBA from the University of West Florida. Davies spent over 18 years at the Walt Disney Company developing and leading advanced analytical teams for a variety of business areas. Following that, Davies spent more than seven years with NBCUniversal as the SVP, Corporate Decisions Sciences. In 2020, Davies joined Yum! Brands, the world’s largest restaurant company, hosting such iconic brands as KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and The Habit Burger. At Yum! he is responsible for leading the Corporate Data and Analytics Strategy and championing the development and adoption of advanced data capabilities as Yum! transforms into a premier digital brand.
How did UWF prepare you for your career?
With any education, you get out of it what you put into it. What I appreciated about my time at UWF was the flexibility. I was teaching full-time and had young kids, so my ability to flex classes around a full-time teaching schedule was huge. But most of all I think it was the availability and accessibility of my professors that I appreciated most. The quality of education was table stakes, but the personal mentorship by many of my professors really helped establish my overall educational and career success.
Walk us through what a typical day for you is like.
Yum! Brands now has 50,000 restaurants in 150 different countries that are owned and operated by 4,000 different franchisees around the world. It is an immense and complex system. A key focus is attempting to transition that system into a digital world, transforming how we interact with both our consumers and employees in a seamless way. That means a lot of my time is spent talking to people around the world about what they are trying to accomplish, what decisions they’re trying to make, and what information and tools they need to make those decisions. Then we try to help them access data, build up tools and processes, and/or use machine learning or artificial intelligence to accelerate those decisions and enhance those experiences. There is no day that looks exactly like the next which is one of the things I really love about the job.
You joined Yum! Brands amid the COVID-19 pandemic. How did you help shape or carry out their response to COVID-19?
We have been able to support our Brand Partners and Franchisees with their responses in a number of ways including helping the company understand what a digital strategy looks like when it comes to our consumers and measuring that effectively. At its core, COVID-19 fundamentally changed the pace of information and how quickly you need it to react. Some simple examples include building new visualizations to understand progress with digital penetration across the world, building great recommendation engines into our first party digital consumer experiences to make sure we maximize those engagements, and helping measure and define the incremental economics of delivery partners like DoorDash or GrubHub.
What advice do you have for UWF students and alumni?
To current students, view your education as an investment to be maximized, not just a goal to be accomplished. I’ve spent time not only as a student, but also on the other side as a professor. A general truism I’ve seen over and over is that the students who get the most out of a class are the ones who are the most proactively engaged in it. The best learning experience is an active two-way partnership between the student and teacher. To alumni, what you learned in college was merely table stakes. Never stop being a learner, never stop becoming a better version of you. Treat your job like your craft and constantly try to become an expert at it.