VocSoc welcomed Old Etonian Ed Evans, Chief People Officer at Pret A Manger, back to Eton in October. Having spent ten years between KFC and Taco Bell, and some time prior to that at Jack Wills, Mr Evans had a wealth of experience in the fast-moving consumer goods sector to share with us.
He began his career as a headhunter, finding talent on behalf of companies such as Royal Mail, Warburtons and Primark – as well as filling leadership positions for the London 2012 Olympic Games. After a short stint at Jack Wills, Mr Evans joined KFC where he managed the 27,000 strong workforce in Britain, helped set up a degree apprenticeship programme and designed a new uniform which is still in use today, seven years later.
Mr Evans then moved on to lead KFC’s US operation, across more than 4,000 restaurants. We heard how KFC’s oldest employee at the time was a 95-year-old woman who had shaken the hand of the company’s founder – Colonel Sanders – himself.
This year, Mr Evans joined Pret – the upmarket British food retail company with over 400 stores in the UK and 15,000 employees. After recovering from the negative publicity surrounding Pret’s listing of allergens on packaging, with a Pret baguette leading to the death of a 15-year-old girl in 2016, and the prolonged threat of the pandemic – Pret has been keen to expand beyond its London centric model and enter new markets abroad.
The company has been on a firmer footing since it launched a highly successful subscription product which helped the company maintain a secure revenue stream during the depths of the pandemic and the slow return of office workers to Pret’s metropolitan based stores.
Mr Evans talked about the potential of new technologies to further enhance the business. The company prides itself on its customer service and as Chief People Officer, Evan’s role is focused on ensuring the company attracts the best talent and that employees are encouraged to progress through the company.
The current CEO has been at the firm for 23 years, starting out in one of their London stores and working his way up the ladder. Having embarked on expanding their franchise model, the company is opening new stores around the world – with their fifth store opening in India on the day Mr Evans came to speak to us and expanding operations in Singapore, Switzerland and Canada.
Mr Evans’ varied and winding career journey, across the fashion and food industries, demonstrated to us how career paths today look much more like a squiggly line rather than a straight one.
The boys were inspired by the fast-paced and exciting job prospects presented to them and thank him for his time and valuable insights.