September 27, 2023 – ZRG Partners, a leading search firm backed by private equity firm RFE Investment Partners, recently assisted in the recruitment of Suzie Tsai as chief growth officer for Bonchon, a Korean fried chicken restaurant chain. Issy Perez, managing director, and Cheryl Malcomb Gonzales, managing associate, led the assignment. Ms. Tsai joins Bonchon with more than 25 years of marketing and branding experience, leading the strategy of brands such as On The Border Mexican Grill and Cantina, KidZania USA, Chili’s Grill & Bar, Verizon, and The Dallas Morning News.
“Congratulations to Suzie Tsai, chief growth officer at Bonchon,” said ZRG Partners in an online post. “Her 25-plus years of leadership experience in food and hospitality will further propel Bonchon’s amazing growth in the U.S.”
“As we look at our next stage of growth, it’s important that we have a leader who has a track record of scaling brands and contributes to our mission of sharing the joy of Korean comfort food around the world,” said Bonchon CEO Bryan Shin. “Suzie’s multifaceted experience in food and beverage marketing, insights, innovation, brand strategy and global franchise operations will play an instrumental role in helping us evolve as a brand.”
Ms. Tsai will be charged with overseeing guest experience and menu innovation, leveraging technology to improve efficiencies, developing unique branding and growth strategies, and continuing to strengthen Bonchon’s positioning and overall presence, which is critical for meeting the needs of the growing brand.
“Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to lead several innovative brands, but Bonchon is unique in that it represents more than my love for food. It signifies my Korean-American roots and my passion for connecting with people,” said Ms. Tsai. “My role at Bonchon serves as an exciting opportunity to guide one of the fastest-growing brands to its full potential while bringing Bonchon’s authentic Korean flavors and culture to a broader audience in the U.S.”
Dallas-based Bonchon has 400 restaurants across eight countries: Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, Cambodia, Myanmar, France, Vietnam, and the U.S. It was recognized by Business Insider in 2019 as “the gold standard for fried chicken” and included on Nation’s Restaurant News’ 2022 “Top 500 Restaurants,” Fast Casual Magazine’s 2023 “Top 100 Movers & Shakers” and Entrepreneur’s 2022 “Franchise 500,” “Fastest Growing Franchises,” “Top Food Franchise,” and “Top Global Franchise” lists.
Proven Search Consultants
ZRG, founded in 1999, is a mid-sized global executive search firm and one of the fastest growing in the search industry. It provides a full suite of executive, middle management, and customized search solutions through its offices in North America, Europe, South America, and Asia. The firm finds leaders across a broad spectrum of business markets, including aerospace, consumer, education, healthcare services, and solutions, industrial, life sciences, non-profit, private equity and venture capital, and technology. ZRG is based in Rochelle Park, NJ.
Mr. Perez serves in the consumer practice group, with an emphasis on the consumer packaged goods and food and beverage sectors. He has served leading companies throughout North and South America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. He specializes in placing C-suite executives in general management, sales, and marketing roles. Prior to joining ZRG, Mr. Perez was president and CEO at Kincannon & Reed and a consultant in the consumer practice at Spencer Stuart. Before that, he held senior executive roles in management, sales, and marketing with PepsiCo/Frito Lay, Kraft Foods/Nabisco, and Britvic North America.
Ms. Malcomb Gonzales, who has been with ZRG since 2012, has over two decades of recruiting expertise. Throughout her career, she has played a significant role in prominent recruiting engagements across various industries to include Fortune 500, small to mid-size private companies, and more recently, private equity-backed organizations. Previously she was recruiting vice president for Ken Clark International. Before that, she was human resources manager for Giorgio Armani Corp. She was also senior executive search consultant for Caliber Associates and executive recruiter for Culver Executive Search.
Chief Growth Officer
Chief growth officer is a hot C-level role as companies of every stripe navigate in a pandemic environment. And while not every company has one, more of these positions are likely to emerge. According to recruiters, the CGO role itself is expanding and its popularity is rising, especially among professional services firms that understand client needs and who want to be front and center to achieve long-term revenue growth and stay competitive. The CGO, they report, is free to challenge the status quo in order to discover new pathways to growth. But the position holder also leads their organizations to a heightened sense of responsibility and purpose.
Recruiters focused on finding C-suite leadership for their corporate clients say that CEOs have created the position of chief growth officer to drive revenue growth during periods of slowing economic activity. But leaders are now seeing advantages to having growth leaders on board much earlier, when business is booming, or when business is under stress like it is now, to help establish organizational rigor.
Related: ZRG Recruits CEO for Quarterhill
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media