Sharon Lykins

This entry is part 41 of 77 in the series

No-Photo-AvailableSharon Lykins

Denny’s
Senior Director, Product Innovation

Years with company: Six years

Education degrees and professional/volunteer organizations: Bachelor of Science, Food Science – University of Kentucky

Mentors and how have they assisted you in your career: Barbara Timm-Brock challenged my technical skills and made me better.  Jeff Spotz taught me supply chain management.  I learned about taking responsibility when plans don’t go perfectly from Chris Elliott.  Tom Johnson gave me the opportunity to identify and set strategy.  Now, I’m gaining a deeper understanding of leadership from Frances Allen.

While several people have influenced my career in different ways, Stan Dorsey has been my mentor and friend my entire career.  I’ve worked for Stan 3 times.  He was always willing to set a goal then let me figure out how to achieve it.  These stretch assignments honed, not only my technical skills, but taught me how to navigate the corporate structure to achieve the strategic objectives of the companies where I’ve worked.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements? Do you have a defining moment of your career to date?  I don’t believe that I’ve had a career defining moment yet.  I’ve been fortunate to lead and be part of teams that have been able to put together successful programs and processes.  My time at Denny[‘s has been particularly rewarding.  At Denny’s, I’ve been able to pull together all of the skills I’ve learned throughout my career as we’ve worked to revitalize the menu.  The results have been good and continue to show tangible improvement.  I’m proud of the results we’ve achieved.

Most challenging part of your job: The most challenging part of my job is balancing the expectations of each stakeholder group (senior management, franchisees, vendors, staff, etc.).

Advice for upcoming younger executives: Think of as many reasons as you can that might make a project fail then try to build solutions into the plan.   Your work will speak for itself, but have a cheerleader in your corner that makes sure your work is noticed.

Hobbies: Tennis with the family, reading, and cooking.