Kat Cole

Kat Cole

COO & President, North America

FOCUS Brands

Atlanta, GA USA

Follow the compelling alternative...you can always go back to make up for what you’ve chosen to forgo.


By Roadtrip Nation

Kat Cole


My road in life has been direct.
Was raised by a single mother who struggled with alcoholism, so she had the responsibility of helping raise her sisters from a young age.
She was the first person on either side of her family to get into college, and she didn’t have any examples of family members working in “white collar” jobs.
Started out as an electrical engineering and computer science major, but dropped out before the end of her second year to pursue a job opportunity for Hooters, opening franchises around the world.
Has worked in the foodservice industry her whole life, starting from the bottom and working her way up—asks, “Who better to run the business than someone who knows every piece of it?”
Became an executive at Hooters of America when she was 26—she experienced imposter syndrome because, in boardrooms, she was usually the youngest, the only woman, and the one with the least education.
Decided to go back to school to pursue her MBA at Georgia State University, which she received without ever having earned a bachelor’s degree.
Was recruited by FOCUS Brands when she was 31 to become the president of Cinnabon.
She is now the president and COO of FOCUS Brands—credits her success to getting involved with rapidly growing companies and constantly desiring to learn more.
Keep following my journey


COO & President, North America

I run a conglomerate of franchise businesses and food brands.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Learning / Being Challenged

Day to Day

I am currently responsible for leading the company’s six domestic franchise brands and overseeing FOCUS Brands’ licensing division, building revenues and profits through global licensing, manufacturing, and e-commerce. Most of what I have to deliver as President is partnerships and building investment relationships. I spend a lot of time collaborating and communicating with our franchisees and helping them succeed. I also advise founders and early-stage startups.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for everyone

Ask yourself, "Do I have a compelling alternative?" There is no set path to success and you don't have to do the same things as everyone else. If there is something else that you would rather be doing, then go do that.

Recommended Education

My career is not related to what I studied. I'd recommend this path instead:


The Noise I Shed

From Myself:

"Should I stay in school?"

Challenges I Overcame

Drugs / Addiction
First-Generation College Student