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Bloomin' Brands Chief David Deno Scheduled to be the Conversation with a CEO Guest in March

By Keith Morelli

David Deno

TAMPA (February 12, 2020) -- Overseeing a corporation that runs nearly 1,500 restaurants in 48 states, not to mention nearly two dozen other countries, it would seem as if David Deno seldom has time to even sit down for a relaxing meal. He is the CEO of Bloomin’ Brands, which owns such eateries as Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar.

Bloomin’ Brands is one of the world’s largest casual dining companies with about 93,000 employees and is one of the largest publicly traded companies headquartered in the Tampa Bay area. And, one of the most visible.

Deno will take a few moments to meet with Muma College of Business Dean Moez Limayem at a Conversation with a CEO to take place from 8:30-10 a.m. on March 11 in the USF Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation, 124 S. Franklin St. in downtown Tampa. Register for the event here.

"I’ve been involved with the restaurant industry for a long time – with YUM Brands, Burger King and now Bloomin’ Brands," Deno said.  "I’ve seen a lot of change with market trends, the economy, technology, demographics and competition, just to name a few. I’m constantly thinking about how we can stay relevant and meet the ever-changing demand of our guests. The same thing that keeps me up at night, gets me out of bed: I enjoy the challenge."

Deno was named CEO and a member of the board of directors in March 2019 after serving as the company’s chief financial and administrative officer. A member of the company’s executive leadership team since 2012, Deno now is responsible for developing and executing the company’s long-term objectives, growth strategies and initiatives for its portfolio of casual and fine-dining brands.

Every day is a challenge, he said.

"No one can do this alone," he said. "I have a great leadership team, backed by some of the best employees in the business. Together, we prioritize and focus on what needs to be done today and tomorrow, while keeping a long-range vision in mind."

Throughout his time at Bloomin’ Brands, Deno has overseen the company’s business analytics and global strategy as well as all areas of financial planning and reporting. His scope of responsibility also included global supply chain, development and productivity.

"We use analytics and feedback from our guests to make informed decisions," he said. "We have to take risks and try new things. Sometimes they don’t work and you have to course correct. Sometimes those risks can make you a pioneer, like Outback being the first to offer curbside takeaway – a trend that transformed the restaurant industry."

The vast amont of information available these days can be both an asset and a distraction, he said.

"Ideally, a business uses this information to create an emotional connection with their guests," he said. "How and when you gather that data and parse it through the appropriate lens becomes the magic of marketing in 2020."

He joined Bloomin' Brands eight years ago from Best Buy, where he served as president of the Asia Division and CFO for Best Buy International. His career also has included more than 15 years in senior-level operations and financial positions at PepsiCo/YUM Brands and eight years at Burger King.

Deno earned an MBA from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from Macalester College in Minnesota. He has been a Macalester trustee since 1998.

One point of pride at the corporation is its gender diversity.

With nearly 40 percent female representation on its board of directors, Bloomin’ Brands has been recognized as a leader in gender diversity among S&P 500/Fortune 1000 companies. Last year, Bloomin’ Brands was named to Forbes’ list of America’s Best Employers for Diversity and America’s Best Employers for Women.

"A diverse team brings a variety of perspectives and creates an environment that leads to better business decisions," he said. "We’re proud to have been recognized with four consecutive awards by the Women’s Forum of New York for gender diversity on our board.

"We have also achieved more than 50 percent gender parity," he said, "among our company officers."

So where does the top person on the Bloomin' Brands food chain eat when he heads out to dinner?

"I live in downtown St. Petersburg and stop in to a few places there, but at the end of the day, Outback, Carrabba’s, Bonefish and Fleming’s continue to be my go-to destinations," he said. "The food is delicious."

Register for the free Conversation with a CEO here.