Special Report | March 2011 | By Jordan Melnick and Robin Van Tan

Top Women in Quick Service

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Besides luring celebrity customers, Shields has helped Jamba accomplish another difficult task: helping the company transition into a complete lifestyle brand while ensuring that it stays true to its core line of products. Jamba was founded in 1990 as a smoothie concept but now sells additional items such as oatmeal, flatbreads, hot teas, and coffee—all of which Shields helped launch. In addition, it has introduced various retail products, including a toy blender, a line of all-natural smoothie kits, frozen sorbet and yogurt bars, and trail mix.

Shields’s innovative approach and experience with better-for-you foods was key in helping take many of these products from concept to reality. “I've been enjoying Jamba as a customer for a long time,” she says. “When you like a brand yourself that much, it's really amazing to find yourself actually working on the brand.”

Shields’ efforts haven’t gone unnoticed; they earned her a seat on The Organic Center’s Board of Directors last November.

Sally Smith

Sally Smith

CEO of Buffalo Wild Wings

For basketball fans across the country, March Madness means one thing: watching the tournament at Buffalo Wild Wings. But before Sally Smith joined the brand as its CFO in 1994, barely anyone outside of Ohio had even heard of the restaurant or its now-famous “secret sauce.”

At the time, the concept had less than 35 locations, most of which were located in the Buckeye State. The company's corporate structure was minimal, to say the least. So Smith created several departments within the company, including its human resources, finance, and marketing divisions. In the two years between when Smith joined the brand and when she was appointed its CEO in 1996, Buffalo Wild Wings doubled its number of units.

But Smith wasn’t satisfied; she continued to emphasize brand growth and a premium in-store experience, and in November 2003, when she took the company public, she announced the goal of opening 1,000 U.S. locations.

Her strategy has been an effective one; today, there are more than 740 Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants, and the company recently announced plans to expand into Canada as well.

Buffalo Wild Wings locations aren’t the only thing Smith has seen increase during her tenure with the company; she’s also racked up a number of awards, including the Multi-Unit Foodservice Operators Operator of the Year Award in 2010 and the International Food Manufacturer’s Association’s Gold Plate Award in 2009.

Christine Deputy

Christine Deputy

Senior Vice President of Human Resources of Dunkin’ Brands

Her job description says she’s responsible for employee recruitment, training, compensation, benefits, leadership and development, policy development, and employee health and wellness at Dunkin’ Brands’s corporate level. But as far as Christine Deputy is concerned, she’s responsible for much more: namely, every single customer-employee interaction that happens in a Dunkin’ Donuts or Baskin-Robbins store.

As the company’s senior vice president of human resources, Deputy determines the hiring and training strategies that shape the entire corporate culture.

“The thing that I really love about this industry is the impact that the people have on the actual business and the impact the culture has on that connection with the consumer and on the brand,” Deputy says. “It’s a very, very people-heavy environment, and at least in the human resources arm of it, you can have a really big impact on people and ultimately on the business.”

Deputy’s work affects more than just the brand and its customers, though. Just as important to her are the quick-serve employees themselves—whether they work for Dunkin’ Brands for a few months or for the rest of their careers.

“Sometimes folks look at this industry and go, ‘I’m not really sure how that could prepare me for a career and how it could help me grow as a leader,’” she says. “I’d like to continue to role model that this is an industry that truly develops great skills and capabilities in people.”