CEO of Bloomin’ Brands, Dave Deno, Discusses Power of Teamwork and Culture in Leadership Dialogues Session

by | Apr 15, 2024 | Sanger News, Leadership Dialogues

The power of teamwork, knowing when to ask for help, and the value of culture were three topics that dominated the conversation between Chief Executive Officer of Bloomin’ Brands, Dave Deno, MBA ’82 and Michigan Ross Professor, Marcus Collins, during the Leadership Dialogues speaker series on March 20, 2024.

“The most important thing that you can do is have a growth mindset,” Deno explained. “I’ve always tried to find a way to say yes.”

After graduating from Ross, Deno said yes to many opportunities. He went on to work for various companies including the Pillsbury Company, Burger King, PepsiCo as CFO of Pizza Hut, CFO of Yum Brands, COO of Quiznos, and President of Asia and CFO International Division of Best Buy before eventually becoming the CEO of Bloomin’ Brands. Deno’s expansive leadership experiences have equipped him with valuable insights into the intricacies of business operations and organizational dynamics.

Moderator Marcus Collins, marketing professor at Michigan Ross and the former Chief Strategy Officer at Wieden+Kennedy New York, guided the conversation. As the author of the acclaimed book, For the Culture: The Power Behind What We Buy, What We Do, and Who We Want to Be, Collins highlighted the importance of culture in organizations. 

“Culture is a system of conventions and expectations that demarcate who we are and govern what people like us to do,” Collins shared. In terms of organizations, he explained, “it is an operating system for what we do, in that when it’s inconvenient, we still stick by what we say we believe.”

Deno built upon what Collins shared, speaking to navigating ambiguous situations and difficult decisions throughout his career. He explained that a strong company culture and values are essential to successfully guiding actions and leading organizations, especially during times of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“People and customers come first in my world,” Deno explained. “We spend an inordinate amount of time training, teaching, living, and rewarding culture.” 

Deno’s people-first strategy has paid off. In 2020, Bloomin’ Brands received recognition from Global Finance magazine for its exceptional response to the global pandemic, being named one of only five companies honored for Overall Excellence – Corporate. The company was commended for its efforts in prioritizing the well-being of customers and employees while also supporting the communities served by its restaurants.

In closing, Deno highlighted the importance of ethical leadership, teamwork, and knowing when to ask for help. He shared that his biggest learning has been “the power of teamwork and the importance of having something bigger than yourself to achieve.” 

The next installment of the Leadership Dialogues speaker series will be held on April 8, 2024, with Matt Gutman, chief national correspondent for ABC News, and Ethan Kross, Professor of Psychology and Management and Organizations and Director of the Emotion & Self-Control Laboratory.

Learn more by visiting the Sanger Leadership Center’s website.