The International Food and Beverage Technology Association (IFBTA), a nonprofit trade association, promotes the use of technology within the global food and beverage industries with a specific focus on education, certification, standards, research and networking, while aligning with other industry associations and groups in support of their technology related initiatives; and to further the common business interests of the information technology industry by promoting the utilization of technology within all segments of the global food and beverage industry, including restaurant/foodservice, hospitality/lodging, gaming, onsite, beer/wine/spirits retailing, c-stores, catering, travel and other related segments of the food and beverage industry.
Governed by a board of top-level food and beverage IT executives, the IFBTA incorporates operator and supplier participation and input to promote technology education, networking, and solutions. The IFBTA addresses all areas of technology used in and enabling the food and beverage industries, including:
- Front of House
- Back of House
Meet the IFTBA
Board of Directors
LOU GRANDE, JR. – Chairman
SENIOR VP OF IT, RED LOBSTER SEAFOOD COMPANY
Lou Grande is an Information Technology Executive with over 25 years of experience in creating shareholder value and operational effectiveness through technology. He has worked for organizations of all shapes and sizes, from “mid-market” to Fortune Global 500 companies. He has broad experience in all aspects of system operations, IT governance, support services, compliance and development, and direct experience with IT strategy, project implementation, team organization and technology consulting.
His industry experience includes foodservice/hospitality, retail and management consulting where Lou gained a solid reputation among colleagues, business partners and customers alike as an executive with a rare balance of strategic insight, operational expertise, technical skills, financial skills, and sales and marketing savvy.
Grande holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Computer Information Systems from Georgia State University in Atlanta. Lou is an Advisory Council Member of FSTec, Chairman of the International Food & Beverage Technology Association, a Board Director of SIM Central Florida, a Founding Board Member of the Central Florida Tech Alliance, and a past Board Member and active participant of the NRA IT Executive Study Group. He is also a five time repeat mentor for Pathbuilders’ Achieva program in Atlanta.
CIO, COMPASS GROUP NORTH AMERICA
Mr. Watkins joined Compass Group in 1994, moving to the Americas corporate office in Charlotte, NC from the UK in 1997 to assist with an ERP implementation. Subsequent project and line management positions culminated in Mr. Watkins becoming CIO in 2001. Mr. Watkins has overall responsibility for leading and aligning technology resources with business needs to enable business growth and change. He obtained a BSc(Hons) from the University of Wales, is qualified as a Management Accountant and acquired an MBA from Cranfield University. Mr. Watkins’ career transitioned from finance to technology during his early years with Compass Group. Prior to joining Compass Group, he worked for a number of organizations, including Pirelli, Reuters and Somerfield (a leading UK grocery chain). Mr. Watkins is married with two daughters, and lives in Charlotte.
VP – GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT, MCDONALD’S
Phil Le-Brun serves as the Vice President – Global Technology Development in McDonald’s Corporation. Phil is accountable for the strategy, architecture, development and support of McDonald’s critical applications and services including the restaurant technology, digital commerce, data, and supply chain portfolios for 36,000 restaurants globally.
Prior to this Phil served as VP and Segment CIO, accountable for the technology relationship with 118 of McDonald’s 119 markets globally. Leading up to this Phil held a number of roles including in Europe partnering to create the future McDonald’s customer experience in 38 markets representing over 7,600 restaurants, Senior Director of US Business Solutions, and Senior Director of Worldwide Retail Technology based in the USA for 9 years. In these roles Phil partnered to achieve what today are some of the largest, technologically innovative retail deployments of technology globally.
Phil holds a BEng in Electronic and Electrical Engineering, an Executive MBA, and an MSc in Systems Thinking in Practice. He is a Chartered Manager, Chartered Member of the British Computer Society, and a member of the Institute of Engineering and Technology.
GLOBAL SENIOR DIRECTOR, POS, MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL, INC
Ummara is the Senior Director of POS in Global Operations at Marriott International. She joined Marriott in 2007 where she started her career as a Director of Operational Excellence at Gaylord National. In the hospitality industry, Ummara also worked at an independent hotel, a Hilton property and a Management Company.
Prior to hospitality, Ummara worked in NYC on Wall Street for 6 ½ years in Investment Banking focusing on Mergers and Acquisitions, High Yield Finance and Private Equity. In DC, she worked at the Advisory Board Company as a Senior Consultant. She has also been involved in starting up two companies – an internet company and a nanotechnology hedge fund.
Outside of work, Ummara is a mom to 2 young boys and is very passionate about paying it forward to her community. Currently, she serves as a Board Member for a Montessori School, an active PTA member and volunteer at an Elementary School, the Social Chair of a Travel Soccer League and a volunteer with the Cub Scouts. During her time in NYC, she was an actively involved with multiple homeless organizations and assisted with care for late stage cancer patients at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She loves to run and exercise to keep up with her two boys.
Ummara received her B.A. in Economics from Harvard University. She also completed a Master Black Belt in Six Sigma.
CIO OF CKE RESTAURANTS, INC.
Darla Morse joined CKE in March 2019 as Chief Information Officer, overseeing all IT initiatives and technology innovation reporting.
Darla most recently served as CIO of Inspire Brands and brings extensive restaurant technology experience and an impressive IT background to CKE. At Inspire, she led initiatives to enhance the restaurant experience and drive operational efficiencies for the multi-brand restaurant company whose portfolio includes more than 8,300 Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Rusty Taco and Sonic Drive-In locations worldwide.
Prior to this role, Darla was CIO of Arby’s, served as CIO of SeaWorld and spent 17 years with Walt Disney World Resorts in a variety of technology roles. I look forward to having Darla join our team to help optimize IT infrastructure in support of our company’s growth and innovation strategy.
Darla is an alumna of Florida Southern College where she received a Bachelor of Computer Science. She also received an MBA in Management Information Systems from Webster University.
DIRECTOR OF IT, POLLY'S INC
Kathy is the Director of Information Technology for Polly’s Inc, which operates Polly’s Pies Restaurants and KFCs of Polly’s. Her ultimate purpose is to help create efficiency through technology, and implementing new technology to assist with sales increase and company growth.
Her experience in the restaurant industry is approaching 30 years: in both quick-service, as well as in full-service restaurants. 12 years in restaurant operations, and 17 years in Restaurant IT. The combination of her operational and technical knowledge definitely helps her accomplish IT projects for restaurants; thinking with both the operators and technologist in mind.
With the growing needs of the economy and the needs of our restaurant’s guests, Kathy often enjoys learning about and looks forward to implementing new technologies that will benefit us in the restaurant industry.
Kathy enjoys the cold weather and snow, which probably doesn’t make sense since she grew up in Hawaii. Although she loves living in Southern California, Hawaii will always be the place where she calls home. Aloha!