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New Restaurants CEO brings biz savvy to help reeling industry

Foodservice executive lacked association management experience but knew key players; financial strength cushions recession’s blow


July 24, 2020
By William Ehart

Tom Bené had a lot of advantages coming into the CEO role at the National Restaurant Association in June.

Though he had no prior association management experience, he’s spent a career in the food industry’s executive ranks. He rose to president of PepsiCo Foodservice after a 23-year career at PepsiCo and was most recently CEO of Sysco for two years, overseeing 65,000 employees who distribute food to supermarkets, convenience and drug stores and restaurants.

While at PepsiCo, Bené was president of the American Beverage Association board, where he got to know then-CEO Susan Neely. Bené also has known his predecessor at the National Restaurant Association, Dawn Sweeney, for years. She retired at the end of 2019.