Female Fast Risers - Kelly Parker
Name: Kelly Parker
Brand: Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux
Title: Director of Franchise Development and Real Estate
Years in franchising: 15, 5 at Walk-On’s
No. of units: 45
What attracted you to franchising? I actually grew up in the franchising world. My father was a self-made franchisee with a QSR brand. I watched him grow throughout his career and teach, coach, and provide opportunities for others to share in his success. I never saw myself going into the business, but now I wouldn’t change it for the world.
What was your first job in franchising? I worked in marketing for my father’s QSR brand. It taught me so much and gave me the backbone I have today, separating family and professionalism, but also using that emotion and passion to drive my development today.
What do you attribute your success to? The people. Leaders and mentors I have met throughout my career, as well as the teams I have worked with. I am constantly learning and growing and surrounding myself with people I can learn from.
What challenges and obstacles have you overcome in your career? I have failed many times. I believe it’s how you overcome failures that defines where you can go in the future. I have been on the franchisee side, and for several reasons it didn’t work out. I think having humility and being able to learn from mistakes has been vital in helping me grow into the position and person I am today.
Describe your journey to your current position: I was a franchisee before joining Walk-On’s on the franchisor side. The experience I had on the franchisee side propelled me into the position I am in today. I came to Walk-On’s with a marketing position, but as we grew the development side it became clear that’s where I excelled. I am able to relate with our franchisees and potential franchisees because I have been in their shoes and have a true understanding of being a franchisee. This has gone a long way in my relationships with our franchisees!
What are your future career goals? I love seeing a potential franchisee become a franchisee, go through the development process, and get their restaurant open! It’s amazing to watch their continued success because they believe in the brand and in their people. My career goal is to continue down the development path so I can celebrate the successes of our franchisees!
Advice to young female executives in franchising: Surround yourself and network with people in the industry. Don’t be afraid of failure, learn from your mistakes, and constantly be open to developing yourself through people and education.
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