Brinker International CFO Joe Taylor to Retire; New CFO and CIO Named Amid Executive Leadership Transition

Joe Taylor, EVP and CFO of Dallas-based restaurant company Brinker International, will retire at the end of June after nearly 25 years with the company. Mika Ware, a 35-year veteran of Brinker, has been appointed as the new CFO, while Chris Caldwell, formerly of Yum! Brands, will join as CIO to accelerate Brinker's technology strategy.

Brinker International Inc., a Dallas-based restaurant company, has announced changes to its executive leadership team.

The updates include the retirement of Joe Taylor as EVP and chief financial officer, the appointment of Mika Ware as SVP and chief financial officer, effective June 27, and the appointment of Chris Caldwell as SVP and chief information officer.

CFO transition

According to Brinker, Taylor has informed the company that he intends to retire at the end of the company’s fiscal year in June after nearly 25 years at the company. He will continue to serve the company in a senior advisory role through August as part of the company’s succession plan.

Holding various leadership roles in finance, corporate affairs, and communications, Taylor contributed significantly to the company’s growth, the company said. He also served in industry leadership on the board of directors for the National Restaurant Association and as a trustee for the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.

As CFO, Taylor has been instrumental in executing Brinker’s capital allocation strategy and several acquisitions of the company’s largest domestic franchisee operations. Brinker noted.

“I am truly grateful for Joe’s strategic leadership, accomplishments, and the finance team he has established and coached. He leaves us in an exceptionally strong position to create long-term growth, and we wish him all the best in his retirement,” Brinker CEO Kevin Hochman said in a statement. “His service as an industry leader and impact as a trusted mentor will live on for years to come.”

Ware has been appointed SVP, chief financial officer, and will assume the role upon Taylor’s departure at the beginning of fiscal year 2025 on June 27, the company said.

Ware started her Brinker career in 1988 as a Chili’s host and earned her finance degree while working at Chili’s. Over the years, Ware has held finance and IR roles of increasing responsibility and is an expert in Brinker’s business, brands, and the finance organization.

“After a comprehensive search for Joe’s replacement, it became clear the most outstanding candidate was already part of our organization,” Hochman said. “Mika has excelled in every role at Brinker in her 35 years, both in the restaurants and in Brinker leadership. She has an incredible understanding of our key financial disciplines, opportunities, and operations, which made her the perfect choice for CFO to lead us in our next chapter of profitable, sustainable growth.”

Tech exec

Brinker said that Caldwell is a world-class leader with an impressive background across all functions of IT.

He spent 27 years leading technology teams at Yum! Brands, most recently serving for a decade in the role of chief technology officer at KFC, where he helped build a leading technology team, robust tech platforms, and an amazing culture. As Brinker’s CIO, Caldwell will lead the IT team and accelerate its progress against the company’s ambitious technology roadmap, the company said.

“We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Chris to the Brinker team,” Hochman said. “He has a consistent track record of results and has successfully led a multi-unit restaurant digital transformation similar to what we are undergoing here at Brinker. I’m confident Chris will successfully accelerate our technology strategy to remove friction for both Guests and Team Members and move the needle on profitable growth.”

Brinker is a leading casual dining restaurant company and home of Chili’s Grill & Bar, Maggiano’s Little Italy and a virtual brand: It’s Just Wings.

Founded in 1975 in Dallas, the company owns, operates or franchises more than 1,600 restaurants in 30 countries and two U.S. territories.

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