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Meet the Women Behind the Bro Brand

When you think of Taco Bell’s Spicy Triple Double Crunchwrap or the XXL Grilled Stuft Burrito, you might assume a college bro is behind the creations.

What you might be surprised to learn is that our Head Chef Liz Matthews is responsible for those and many other cult menu items. In fact, you can thank women for influencing much of what you love about Taco Bell. From the amount of cheese in your favorite menu item, innovative and exciting marketing campaigns (Snapchat taco head filters, anyone?!), to recent decisions on things like swapping to cage-free eggs, designing new restaurants to fit the community and so much more. In honor of CMO Marisa Thalberg receiving the 2017 Woman of the Year recognition from She Runs It, we’d like to introduce you to seven of the fiercest females leading Taco Bell today – and share each of their personal recipes for success.

Marisa-Thalberg3Marisa Thalberg, CMO
Why Marisa Lives Más
I’m excited about the role of women at Taco Bell, because very few C-suites are as penetrated by women as ours is, which is incredible. I feel like I’m on the best life and career adventure yet in my life, and that’s really exhilarating to feel like I’ve hit my stride.

Advice for innovators
Our world is changing, and being able to think of yourself as agile and adaptable, and showing that you can take on different responsibilities and demonstrate a strong work ethic – I think that really does stand out in organizations today.

Liz-Matthews2Liz Matthews, Chief Food Innovation Officer/Head Chef
Why Liz Lives Más
I’ve always wanted to work for Taco Bell. Growing up, I would walk from the beach up to Taco Bell, because that’s where everyone was hanging out. They had a bucket outside where you could put your feet in and walk in barefoot, and it was just the best. Coming into this job, I didn’t care what anyone said, because I just wanted to work here.

Advice for innovators
Never, ever hesitate. I would rather have someone get in the game and fail than not show up in the first place. If you want something, you just have to bear the pain that comes with it – eventually it will feel better and start to be fun.

Melissa-Lora2Melissa Lora, President, International
Why Melissa Lives Más
I just think there’s so much excitement around the world for Taco Bell. I’m so happy about being able to create this amazing restaurant experience for people that know the brand, but don’t necessarily know what the experience is. Visiting places like China makes you realize how much potential there is for feeding people “Más” worldwide.

Advice for innovators
Challenge yourself to figure out the value that you can add to a company and how you can share it along the way. And don’t be shy about it! Really drive your career along the way so that you’re getting outside of your comfort zone.

Deborah-Brand2Deborah Brand, Vice President, Development and Design
Why Deborah Lives Más
Personally, I’m excited about the international growth that we’re doing. I was born and raised in Malaysia and my family was scattered all over the world, so taking a very strong U.S.-centric brand and manifesting it internationally is really exciting for me.

Advice for innovators
I think that everything you learn in life is somehow connected, so don’t discount anything that is continuing to further yourself. The best thing you can do is bring together all the things that are important to you holistically in what you do for a living. The more well-rounded you are, the better you’ll be – regardless of the path you choose.

Tracee-Larocca2Tracee Larocca, ‎Senior Vice President, Advertising and Brand Engagement
Why Tracee Lives Más
I originally said I was only going to be at Taco Bell for two years, and it’s ended up being 17. I think the reason is that I keep trying different things, and I’ve liked everything I’ve gotten to do. If it ever stops being fun, then I’ll stop, but it’s Taco Bell! It’s never going to stop being fun. It’s a pretty cool place.

Advice for innovators
It’s okay to be out of your comfort zone. Honestly, you don’t know something until you try it. It’s okay to try a few things early in your career and hop around.

Liz-Williams2Liz Williams, CFO
Why Liz Lives Más
I appreciate working with such high performing teams that genuinely enjoy working together and trying new things. There is a collective excitement for growth and innovation that makes Taco Bell a special place that attracts top talent.

Advice for innovators
It’s a marathon, not a sprint. You’ve got to take risks, have a thick skin and realize there are things you can’t control. Life’s too short and moves too fast to obsess over something that maybe didn’t go the way you wanted it to – chances are it wasn’t right anyway.

Melissa-Friebe2Melissa Friebe, Vice President, Insights Lab
Why Melissa Lives Más
I’m honestly really excited about the vision of this brand. We have so much runway and so much growth to do all the things that we want to do that are good for the business, the community, and are just fun and entertaining and part of culture. And with food, there’s so much we can dream up! I get really excited about the runway of our brand – it fits a modern life.

Advice for innovators
Let your mind wander and allow yourself to go through experiences, because you never know how dots are going to connect! So keep seeking your goals, keep seeking self-improvement, but allow yourself to wander. And trust it, because it will take you somewhere.

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About taco bell® corporation

Taco Bell Corp., a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE: YUM), is the nation's leading Mexican-inspired quick service restaurant (QSR) brand. From breakfast to late night, Taco Bell serves made-to-order and customizable tacos and burritos, among other craveable choices, and is the first QSR restaurant to offer American Vegetarian Association (AVA)-certified menu items. Taco Bell and its more than 350 franchise organizations proudly serve over 42 million customers each week through 7,000 restaurants across the nation, as well as through its mobile, desktop and delivery ordering services. Overseas, Taco Bell has over 250 restaurants, with plans to add 2,000 more restaurants internationally within the next decade. The brand encourages its fans to “Live Mas” and connects with them through sports, gaming and new music via its Feed The Beat® music program. Taco Bell also provides education opportunities and serves the community through its nonprofit organization, the Taco Bell® Foundation™, and connects fans with their passions through programs such as the Live Mas Scholarship program. In 2016, Taco Bell was named as one of Fast Company’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in the World.

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