Kat Cole, president of Cinnabon Inc., shared her business expertise with more than 200 members of the north Georgia business community at the Inspirational Leaders Luncheon sponsored by the Center for the Future of North Georgia and Mike Cottrell College of Business at the University of North Georgia (UNG).
Cole, who served as keynote speaker for the event, has more than 17 years of multi-disciplined experience in change management, communication, service, sales, operations, multi-channel brand management, and leadership. A highly-requested speaker, Cole has been a featured guest on a number of news networks including CBS, CNN, CNBC, and MSNBC, and was featured on CBS' "Undercover Boss." She is also the co-founder of Changers of Commerce, an organization dedicated to educating and advocating the practices of connecting businesses to society through the concept of connected capitalism. During her presentation, Cole discussed Cinnabon's business strategy and shared her personal success story – advancing from waitress to vice president at Hooter's LLC, then president of Cinnabon, all before age 35.
"In order to be competitive, we must stay true to our core as people and as brands and companies, but be open and flexible enough to expand and partner when needed so we stay relevant," Cole said.
Following Cole's presentation, Dr. Donna Mayo, dean of the Mike Cottrell College of Business, honored the memory of former UNG development officer Mike Banks by presenting two awards in his honor.
"Mike Banks was a good friend to so many of us and a true inspirational leader in our north Georgia community. His impact on businesses and communities throughout north Georgia is tremendous," Mayo said. "Mike believed in giving back, and he either participated in or assisted in founding a number of very successful charitable organizations. We are honored to give these awards in his memory."
Kit Dunlap, president and CEO of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, received the Inspiration in Business Award, which was presented by James McCoy, president and CEO of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce. The Inspiration in Community Award was presented to Dr. Buster Evans, superintendent of Forsyth County Schools, by Darla Light, chairperson of the Forsyth County Schools Board of Education.