Merrill Christopher Pereyra has been the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of QSR Brands (M) Holdings Berhad (QSR Brands) since January 2017. He is responsible for over 1,200 Pizza Hut and KFC stores located in Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia and Brunei, with over 34,000 employees. Pereyra joined QSR Brands in June 2016 as Chief Operating Officer, and was promoted to CEO in January 2017, a mere six months later. Pereyra provides operational and strategic leadership and vision to QSR Brands’ restaurant chains. Before joining QSR Brands, Pereyra held leadership positions in leading quick-service restaurants, i.e. Domino’s Pizza, Healthy Habits, and McDonald’s Corporation.
Pereyra cut his professional teeth with the McDonald’s Corporation as Trainee Manager. He left the corporation 23 years later as its Regional Manager. With the experience he gained working in McDonald’s, he spent a year writing “Expand Your Brand: How to Supersize Any Brand Anywhere in the World,” and delivering keynote speeches. The book summarizes his work experience and demonstrates how his experiences in different situations may be applied to other expanding brands. In 2011, Pereyra joined Healthy Habits as its Managing Director. Two years later, he joined Domino’s Pizza as its CEO and was responsible for turning around the business to a profitable model. He was also responsible for senior hires and talent development, and created the first ever Talent Management Fast Track program, DELTA, for the business.
When Pereyra joined QSR Brands, Pizza Hut has been on a four-year decline in terms of performance, and staff were deeply demoralized. A people person, Pereyra knew a successful turnaround strategy for Pizza Hut would have to be focused first and foremost, on its staff. With this in mind, he helped engineer a strategy that focused on People, Place, Product, Promotion and Profit. The strategy worked and proven by 12% sales growth in following year. Following the improvement in Pizza Hut’s performance, staff morale soared. This, in turn, encouraged them to strive hard to further improve on Pizza Hut’s performance.
Pereyra is a strong believer in the continuous learning process and credits his success to his hunger to learn and improve himself. In the last few years, he has attended Harvard Business School’s “Strategy: Building and Sustaining Competitive Advantage” (2014), in which Harvard Business School is the alumni of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, USA’s “Advanced Management Program” (2011), INSEAD’s “Asian International Executive Program, Shanghai, China Training program directed at executives doing business in Asia” (2008), Thunderbird University, USA’s “Asian Leadership Development Program”, a fast-track leadership training run by McDonald’s corporation over ten months (2007), and McDonald’s “Executive Development Program, Chicago, USA” (2002 – 2006).
Pereyra’s leadership style is people-focused. He surrounds himself with great team members who can contribute fresh and good ideas to any situation they face. Believing that great leadership starts and ends with the trust of his people, Pereyra leads by example and places great importance on his own integrity. As quoted in his book “Expand Your Brand”, ‘I learned that basic human needs of being appreciated, encouraged, supported and seen for what you do well is the only way to glue a team together in productivity & job-satisfaction’, his belief in cultivating a work culture of acceptance, respect and appreciation of difference has clearly demonstrated his embracing leadership and earned the respect & trust of his team.
Over the years, Pereyra has faced different challenges. With his experience and sound education, he’s been able to roll with the changes. For example, the relatively new phenomenon, social media, can make or break a company. Leaders of Pereyra’s calibre would have to learn and adapt very quickly to ways in which to handle social media and ensure their corporations are viewed favorably by the public.
Pereyra has been involved in numerous charities in the past. Under his leadership, Pizza Hut partnered with National Cancer Society of Malaysia to launch its first program “SayangiMu” at the end of 2017. The program aims to raise funds to provide preventive cancer screenings, specifically breast cancer, to women in rural areas.
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