Entrepreneurial Spotlight: Cinnabon’s Kat Cole

Few could predict the impressive chain of events that led businesswoman, Kat Cole, to become the president of Cinnabon. Starting in the most unlikely of places – Hooters – Cole went from serving beer and chicken wings at age 16 to climbing the corporate ladder. At age 19, she was given the opportunity to travel all over the world for Hooters to open up new franchises. At the expense of her college coursework in engineering, Cole seized the opportunity and eventually moved up the ranks to executive vice president by the time she was 26.

Knowing that she needed to get an MBA to continue rising up the ranks, Cole applied and was accepted to Georgia State’s executive MBA program, without ever going back to finish her bachelor’s degree. This was a rare exception, but with her experience, along with 10 recommendation letters from CEOs (including the founder of CNN), she was a shoo-in.

At the young age of 32, Cole accepted her current position as president of Cinnabon. She attributes her success to her ability to see the potential in people and situations where other people can’t. Cole says, “When I see people… I understand that I am in the presence of greatness. Maybe potential greatness, or greatness unpolished, or greatness unfound, but every person has the ability.”

This quote embodies what you all hear me talk about so often – say it with me – unleashing potential! Not only does she see the potential in others, but she also sees it in herself. This is why her journey from Hooters girl to entrepreneur (in less than two decades) was a successful one. The risk of abandoning her college education paired with her confidence to attend graduate school shows her tenacity and talent for always seeing the possibilities in every situation.

We hope this inspires you to take the path less traveled—be an innovator and see the potential in yourself and others. We know we see it.

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