Meet Wendy’s secret weapon in growing internationally

Wendy’s secret weapon in the fast-food wars aren’t its legendary square never frozen beef patties. It’s not the recently christened Breakfast Baconator, either. Nope, it’s Abigail Pringle, a former McKinsey consultant turn fast-food executive that leads Wendy’s budding international business.

Pringle — known among her colleagues at Wendy’s for her boundless energy — is tasked with one of the most important jobs at Wendy’s as it looks to take its growth to a new level over the next 10 years.

Her goal is to finally make Wendy’s a major player in fast-food overseas. The prize per the company’s guidance: a doubling in international sales to $2 billion by operating close to 1,500 restaurants by 2024.

Here are 5 quick facts about Pringle:

  • Joined Wendy’s in 2002 working in the IT department.

  • Credited with overhauling the look of Wendy’s restaurants.

  • Founded the Women of Wendy’s — an internal networking group that helps grow future female leaders.

  • Currently tasked with taking Wendy’s international, in a big way.

  • Her advice to future female leaders: “Have courage. It has served me very well in my career. I had the courage to have a voice and have confidence in my recommendations on the business. Be comfortable in your own skin.”

There is no denying the obvious when it comes to the fast-food industry: it is notoriously male dominated from the C-suite right on down to the restaurant level. Wendy’s could be seen as the exception to this, however. Pringle notes that 50% of Wendy’s senior leadership team and other section 16 officers are women. About 25% of the board is comprised of women, too.

“Yes, there are unique situations that as a woman leader that I don’t think my male counterparts have to even think about when they wake up. There are definitely ways as I have gone through my career where I have had to build a great network,” Pringle tells Yahoo Finance when looking back on her rise through the ranks.

Abigail Pringle is leading the charge at Wendy’s international business.

In short, the mother of two children Pringle has become one of the best kept secrets in the fast-food industry from an executive standpoint. She has her fingerprints on just about every part of the business, from talent development to restaurant development to now leading the company’s charge internationally. It’s an impressive record of achievement.

Pringle tells Yahoo Finance the keys to her success has been to stay endlessly curious, collaborative and continue to ask for tough assignments. She also credits having a great support system back at home.

Her advice for the next generation of female leaders? Speak up.

“As women, sometimes we don’t raise our hand and say hey, this is what I want and being more vocal about it. That has been my biggest coaching to women all throughout their career is to raise their hand and to let people know you are interested and you are willing to take on new opportunity,” Pringle says.

Hat tip to you this Women’s History Month, Abigail Pringle.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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