Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM), parent company of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, and other restaurant chains, announced a new appointment to its board of directors Monday morning to replace outgoing director Michael Cavanagh. The company's pick is Lauren Hobart, the president of Dick's Sporting Goods, an enterprise operating in what appears at first glance to be a very different market.

The pick makes more sense, however, in light of Hobart's experience. According to Market Screener, Hobart spent almost a decade and a half as chief marketing officer and in other marketing posts at PepsiCo prior to her move to Dick's Sporting Goods in 2011. In fact, this makes her a borderline insider, since Yum! Brands was created as a spinoff of PepsiCo's quick-service restaurant division in 1997, the same year Hobart joined PepsiCo in the strategic planning department.

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In today's press release, Yum! Brands points to Hobart's experience in the foodservice industry, her "strong leadership driving DICK'S digital transformation and the growth of its e-commerce business," and her "impressive brand-building, operational and marketing track record." The appointment is effective Nov. 12.

Yum! Brands may have picked its new director to cement its digital gains during the COVID-19 pandemic. As QSR magazine reported in July, Yum! racked up $3.5 billion in second-quarter digitally driven sales, a 40% surge over Q2 2019.

Despite this, Yum! continues to struggle with the fallout from the coronavirus, including the bankruptcy of its most important Pizza Hut franchisee and other ongoing problems -- suggesting it might benefit from more operational flexibility. The new board appointee could provide fresh insights to help Dick's get back on track. 

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