How I Got Here: Fernando Claussen

Sep 22, 2022 10:00 AM ET

In this #HowIGotHere series, you’ll read about the career path of some of the world-renowned leaders at Yum! Brands. Learn more about Fernando Claussen, Vice President & General Manager of Taco Bell International Ibero-America in this installment.


  • Colegio Regis, LaSalle 
    Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico (1986-1989)
  • Technologic Institute of Monterrey
    Technologic Institute of Monterrey Bachelor of Marketing Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico (1989-1994)
  • Harvard Business School 
    Executive MBA Program for Leadership Development Boston, Massachusetts, United States (2005-2006)

If we were to interview your teachers, what would they say about you?

"Fernando was known to raise his hand often. He took his education seriously and relished in teaching complex topics to his fellow students."

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to find historic treasures as an archeologist. I also wanted to be an architect to design and build homes until I realized my drawing was terrible!


First job | At the age of 16, I took a summer job as an interviewer in a market research agency, facilitating questionnaires to families around the city about their shopping behaviors. I learned so much about how people think about their shopping decisions and why we shop the way we do.

Sigma Alimentos, Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico

  • 1994 – 1996: Consumer Insights Analyst, North Division
  • 1996 – 1997: Consumer Insights Analyst, Agencies Country Coordinator
  • 1997 – 2000: Consumer Insights Account Executive
  • 2000 – 2002: Marketing Manager, Frozen Foods
  • 2002 – 2004: Marketing & Key Account Manager, Frozen Foods
  • 2005 – 2007: Marketing Manager, New Business Development

Yum! Brands International, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States

  • 2007 – 2010: Senior Marketing Manager, KFC & Long John Silver’s, Latin America & the Caribbean
  • 2010 – 2013: Marketing Director, KFC, Latin America & the Caribbean

Taco Bell International, Irvine, California, United States

  • 2013 – 2015: Director & General Manager, Taco Bell International, Latin America & the Caribbean
  • 2015 – 2017: Senior Director & General Manager, Taco Bell International, Latin America & the Caribbean
  • 2017 – Present: Vice President & General Manager, Taco Bell International, Ibero-America

What moments, or who, in your life have shaped the way you work?

  • My Parents | Growing up, I noticed how my father’s peers, employees and customers respected and admired him. His genuine interactions with them inspired me to always show that same integrity and respect in my relationships. My mother taught me how to be humble and patient with those who have different views than my own. As the youngest of eight brothers and sisters, there were plenty of opportunities to practice humility and patience in our home!
  • College | I had to maintain a high GPA to keep my scholarship. With these high stakes, my endurance was challenged and refined to manage the demanding requirements of my degree program. Had I not pushed myself, I may not have kept my scholarship or graduated with magna cum laude distinction. This has stayed with me throughout my career.
  • My wife | Just like we have coaches at work, my wife has been my personal coach ever since we were college sweethearts. She’s been a part of every decision I’ve made to progress my career.

Do you believe in work/life balance?

I think the work/life balance comes from the intensity of how you focus your attention on a matter at a certain time. That balance will shift depending on your life stage and personal and professional obligations. As I always say, “First things, first!”

What do people think you do versus what you actually do?

Many people think my role is to delegate business priorities and tasks to grow the brand footprint. That is true, but nevertheless, my job is more about building a team that collaborates to accomplish our goals together. In the end, I’m not the expert in each function. My team is made up of the experts. My job is to bring people together to grow ourselves and grow our great brand.

What is the best piece of advice that you've been given?

In teamwork, the “team” comes before the “work.” Building a high-performance team requires trust, respect and having each other’s backs.

What makes you happy?

The opportunity to learn, teach, share stories, coach others and collaborate always makes my day!