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President & Chief Executive Officer, The Wendy’s Company

Spirit of UDM: Alumni Achievement Award



Emil J. Brolick ’69, ’72 is one of the masterminds of branding and strategy in the fast food business. He earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from University of Detroit and began his business career in the auto industry, working in marketing, corporate development, finance and investor relations for Chrysler Corporation and later at Copeland Corporation. With his broad business background, he then switched to the food service industry when he joined Ponderosa, Inc.

In 1988, Wendy’s needed a strategic leader who could bolster sales. Brolick was their choice, and he served there in numerous capacities. As senior vice president of New Product Marketing, Research and Strategic Planning, he was a key part of the turnaround team that fueled 16 consecutive years of growth for Wendy’s. During his tenure, Brolick became friends with CEO Dave Thomas, founder of the restaurant chain.

As a result of his success at Wendy’s, Brolick was recruited in 2000 to join Yum! Brands. At that fast food giant, he served as president and chief concept officer of Taco Bell until 2006 and as president of U.S. Brand Building until 2008. He then served as CEO of Yum! Brands and as president of the A&W and Long John Silver’s chains from 2008-2011. He retired in 2011, but not for long.

Wendy’s recruited him back to re-establish the company’s brand identity, realign the strategic vision and upgrade its operations. He became CEO and president of Wendy’s and a member of the company’s board of directors.

Giving back to the community is another integral part of Brolick’s career. He is a trustee of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, and chairman emeritus of the board of governors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. In addition, he and his wife, Maureen, support the MIND Research Institute, a nonprofit that teaches science and math to children using musically based software. The Brolicks are residents of Columbus, Ohio, and have a vacation home in Leland, Michigan.

Distinguished graduate of the College of Business Administration '69, '72,, Mr. Brolick was honored with the Spirit of UDM: Alumni Achievement Award on Friday, April 11, 2014.


Recognized as an astute businessman in the food service industry, Emil Brolick’s achievements include successful leadership of The Wendy’s Company and Yum! Brands, which include Taco Bell, A&W and Long John Silver’s restaurant chains.

He is an accomplished turnaround expert who utilized his business expertise and passion for the brand in restructuring The Wendy’s Company in 1988, which led to 16 consecutive years of same restaurant sales growth, and again in 2011 when he returned to re-establish Wendy’s position of excellence.

As an unwavering advocate for causes that provide education and assistance to underprivileged children, he has been an active volunteer and tireless supporter of several community organizations, including the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the MIND Research Institute.

He is also a recipient of University of Detroit Mercy’s Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award for his many contributions to business, education and community service.


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