Jim Flynn, Former Chief Executive Officer, Wingstop Restaurants; and member of Pearson Partners’ Board of Advisors.
As featured in our Q1 2012 Searchlight Newsletter
What is your business background?
For the past nine years I have been CEO of Wingstop Restaurants, Inc., the largest, fastest-growing chicken wing company, with 500 stores. We have been voted as the “best wings in the United States” a number of times. I also had three years in the restaurant industry as President of Popeyes and of Church’s Chicken. My experience beyond those 12 years is diversified, including McKinsey & Company, Brown Shoe Company and Trident Management Corp.
What drew you to Pearson Partners?
I first met Bob Pearson 30 years ago through a mutual friend at McKinsey, and have stayed in touch with him and his successes since then. Bob and I had been in the same McKinsey office in Chicago, but at different times. After forming Pearson Partners, Bob called me from time to time as a source of information for various searches. He asked me earlier this year to join his Advisory Board and I was eager to do so.
What do you think are some of the key issues or challenges in executive search (and/or executive talent development) right now?
A difficult economic environment has limited the requirements for staff additions for business growth. Thus, the push—if any—has been for strong leaders to manage the tough times. This does limit search activity but also presents opportunities for businesses to focus on leadership development, succession planning, executive outplacement and other strategic initiatives.
Describe your leadership style.
My master of business administration degree is in finance, and I have had senior positions in marketing, human resources and operations. Thus, I can work closely with my functional heads to grow them and challenge them. I don’t exert my desires on their actions, but let them tell me what they want to do. Then I generally say, “Go ahead,” and then review the results and changes they would make if it were to be done again.
How have you seen PPI grow and change over your tenure?
I do not have a long history with Pearson Partners, but I have been impressed with the focus, the dedication and the concern of the staff that I have met and talked with.
What do you like to do outside of the office?
My only real activity outside the office is exercise. I get to the health club at 3:30 a.m. and into the office by 6:15 a.m.
What motto do you live by?
Long ago, I learned that you should find and have a job that excites you more on Monday morning than Friday afternoon.