The rest of the 50 (in alphabetical order): John Featherston, senior director, Chick-fil-A New Ventures
John Featherston founded US-based fast-food chain operator Chick-fil-A’s corporate venturing arm called New Ventures in 2015, and has been heading it as senior director. His role involves identifying startups that develop technologies complementing Chick-fil-A’s business strategically.
In addition, Featherston is responsible for engaging the VC ecosystem on behalf of the corporate, foreseeing disruptions, striking up alliances with startups for product development and commercialisation opportunities.
He also heads designated projects associated with the company’s commitment to the community, devising strategies, tracking emerging trends and integrating best practices from the industry.
In May 2017, Chick-fil-A participated as a founding partner together with a consortium of nine other US-based corporates to launch Engage Ventures, a $15m early-stage venture fund run by Tech Square Ventures. Featherston sits on the board of directors at Engage Ventures.
Having joined Chick-fil-A in 1993 as a senior director of real estate, where he spent 22 years overseeing the company’s urban efforts through real estate deals in the US cities of Chicago and New York, Featherston also chaired growth strategy team for 16 years from 1998 and later new market entry team for three years from 2012.
His leadership positions in new market entry and growth strategy teams helped form the company’s disruptive mindset and entry into market gaps, leading a number of innovative schemes such as targeting evolving demographics and streamlining resource allocation.
Featherston, who holds a degree in economics cum laude from Duke University and has a decade of real estate finance experience with financial services firms Bank of America and Wells Fargo, regularly speaks about growth strategy at universities for executives.
He sits on the advisory board of the Erwin Center for Brand Communications at Clemson University and is also a Culinary Institute of America fellow. He is also involved in philanthropic organisations including Care for Aids, Music to Light the World and Redeemer City to City.