FAMU Alumna Fosters Responsibility in Corporate Environmental and Social Practices
Waking up in a different country almost every day maybe a dream for most people, but it is Bridgette Bell's reality. "It's a different world every day but it's exciting," said Bell. She left Florida A&M University in 1999 with a bachelor's in science in Industrial Engineering and an open mind to the opportunities the world would bring down her path. She had no idea that through her passion for her community, diversity and her drive to positively impact the next generation, she would oversee the sustainable practices of one of the largest restaurant chains in the world.
Bridgette Bell is the Global Sustainability Manager for Yum! Brands. Yum! Brands is a growing fast food chain with about 41,000 restaurants in 124 countries. They own restaurants such as Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell.
After college Bell worked in telecom. She decided to get her Master's in Business Administration in Strategy and Leadership from the Drucker School of Management in Claremont, California. Many of her classes focused on the impact executives should leave on the future generation. She said, "I began asking myself 'what is going to be your legacy?'"
Her graduate program ignited her passion towards sustainability. Peter Drucker is the pioneer of business social responsibility and founder of her school. One of his famous quotes is "the best way to predict the future is to create it." Thus, Bell was inspired to be the change she wanted to see. She said: "I truly felt that a career in sustainability and corporate responsibility was an amazing way to leave a positive impact on future generations. It provides an outlet for diversity, inclusion and it is a way to protect the earth for the future."
As a graduate student, Bell was an active member of on Los Angeles' National Black MBA Association. While she was attending a leadership retreat she stumbled across the opportunity that would change her life forever. Yum! Brands' Chief Sustainability Officer, Roger McClendon, saw her zest for sustainable practices and the environment, and asked her if she would like to join his team.
Bell said accepting the position was not an overnight decision. She was working in aerospace as a contractor for NASA, and felt hesitant because it would be a drastic change. But after consulting with her undergrad friends, she realized this will be her chance to follow her passion in corporate responsibility. She said "it has been a blessing ever since."
Bell's work days are busy, but every day is different. She said "I get to travel the world to make sure that our restaurants are being mindful about the impact on the community that we served." Bell is responsible for setting the corporate goals for objective such as sustainable packaging, reducing total waste, recycling, environmental audits and more. She talks to the companies supply chains, quality and public affairs leaders across the world and creates strategies so that these goals are achievable. She said Yum! Brands' goal is to make sure their consumers can see their brands in the best light through environmental efficiency.
FAMU Sustainability Institute invited her and Mr. McClendon to The Hill for the EnergyWaterFoodNexus summit in March 2015. Yum! Brand's was also a contributing sponsor to the summit by providing $3,000 for the event. Bell was very excited to return to her alma mater to talk about the work she does and to show her colleagues the university that molded her. She said, "This University set me up for success, it gave me every single tool I needed to be an impactful leader within corporate America."
During the summit Bell was a panelist for the Sustainable Corporate Strategies session. She discussed Yum! Brands sustainable initiatives and interacted with the attendees. She said, "I wanted to give the audiences an opportunity to interact with us [panelists] and ask questions."
She commends the University for having a Sustainability Institute because it is informing and preparing more future leaders about sustainable practices and environmental issues. Bell said it is not easy to have a career in corporate social responsibility, but remaining involve and attending workshops and events being offer by FAMU-SI will give you a better advantage no matter what field you enter. She said," having an institute like this one is a great way to start building an understanding and networking with others. It will expose you to more opportunities." She hopes to return to The Hill soon.