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James Watts becomes VP HR at KFC, as Misty Reich moves to parent company


It is all change this month in the people departments at fast food firms KFC and its parent company, Yum Foods.

KFC's HRD Misty Reich is off to Dallas, Texas to become chief people officer for Yum's international business, while James Watts (pictured) is heading from Dallas to London, to become KFC's VP, HR.

Speaking exclusively to HR magazine, UK national Watts said: "I am excited to be coming back to our UK business as it is such a strong business with a strong team. I am excited about helping our training programmes grow. We have a vision to be the best company in the UK for training and development. A step towards that will be to get all of our training nationally accredited, so we can offer our employees exceptional training and career development.

"I am also excited about growing our partnership with [children's charity] Barnardo's: it is able to offer structured work placements with us to young adults it identifies. Barnardo's is able to use two of our assets - our world-class training and in-store culture - to get young people ready for any workplace. They acquire basic work skills from our training and at the end receive an accredited work experience certificate. We benefit from having talented, enthusiastic young adults in our businesses. It's a win-win."

Watts started at Yum in 2004, beginning in the Pizza Hut business as OD manager, before joining KFC UK as director of operations HR.

In December 2008, Watts moved to Dallas, Texas to Yum Restaurants International (YRI).In January 2011, he was promoted to senior director, HR, for YRI and added leadership of OD, corporate HR and internal comms teams.

Watts spent a lot of time visiting teams and franchisees around the world. He said: "It was a fantastic opportunity to see the Yum culture in action. I am a nice case study of how good Yum is at helping people grow exciting careers.

"We want to get to the point where every KFC is an accredited training centre, where local people can go to learn life and work skills that will help them build great careers, either with us or somewhere else. We are making good progress, but we feel we are just getting started."