Jerilan Greene | Influence 100

Jerilan Greene 

Chief Communications & Public Affairs Officer 
Yum! Brands



Kentucky-based Yum! Brands is one of the world’s largest fast food companies, operating brands including Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut and The Habit Burger Grill. As global CCO since 2016, Jerilan Greene has led communications at a time of exceptional international growth, and resulting change in corporate structure and vision.

The pandemic has been challenging for the company, but Greene’s experience puts her on excellent footing to navigate through this moment. She is expert at rising to the occasion when needed, saying she “thrives in situations where the solution has to be found and no precedent exists.” Prior to the pandemic, she served as the lead architect of communications surrounding the separation of Yum’s China business into an independent company. She was also responsible for articulating Yum’s strategy for global growth, as well as its vision, mission and values, and recently added public affairs to her responsibilities.

Greene has been with Yum in 2011, when she joined the company as VP, corporate communications. She was previously based agency-side in Chicago, where she was EVP at Edelman and director of the corporate practice at Burson-Marsteller.

Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR's direct impact on business performance?
What better moment than the present to have an impact on business performance! In 2020, our teams have spearheaded efforts to navigate the biggest global crisis in recent history, helped our iconic restaurant brands pivot and communicate a Covid-19-appropriate customer value proposition (providing safe, affordable food in a low contact way) and have positioned our leaders and company to have a positive impact on society by tackling inequality and unlocking opportunity directly through education, entrepreneurship and equity and inclusion. It has been a year of resetting the business and supporting our customers, franchisees, frontline workers and communities to flourish and be more resilient in an uncertain future. Engaging, consistent and strategic communications were and will continue to be central to these efforts.

What are the comms industry's biggest challenges and opportunities in the year ahead?
Many companies have now made bold proclamations about their intent to help society and fight inequality. The challenge and opportunity are the same: helping companies deliver, sustain and report results on their social impact commitments.

What have you most admired about this industry in 2020?
As a whole, the media, communications and PR industry rose to the occasion this year with fast action, ingenuity and agility during an incredibly trying time.

What has most disappointed you about this industry in 2020?
The industry has a huge untapped opportunity to be a major force for change within their agencies and in society by increasing diverse representation, leadership, storytelling and engagement. Who will be first to take bold and meaningful action in this space?

How have you switched off from work and maintained wellness in lockdown?
Chatting with family and friends. Cooking and serving outdoor meals! Walking through my neighborhood and stepping up my at-home workouts with a Peleton and a Hydrow Rower, both of which I had before Covid-19. Refreshing my spirit with prayer, meditation and quiet time have been essential as well.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through this year or provided inspiration?
I like media that help me understand the current landscape more: Susan Rice's Tough Love, Karla Cornejo Villavicencio's The Undocumented Americans, and Parag Khanna's The Future is Asian... the list goes on.

If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
A doctor (fixing and analyzing problems), a moviemaker (telling epic stories), a chef (improvising with joy) or a professor (teaching and helping others).

Sum up 2020 in one word.