The CEO who took over Burger King at age 32 says his 2 greatest skills have helped the company grow quickly

Restaurant Brands International CEO Daniel Schwartz.

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Restaurant Brands International CEO Daniel Schwartz.
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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

  • As the CEO of Restaurant Brands International, Daniel Schwartz oversees Burger King, Tim Hortons, and Popeyes.
  • Schwartz started as CFO at Burger King in his late 20s before becoming CEO at 32.
  • He said that he considers his two greatest skills to be the ability to spot talent, particularly at a young age, and to move people into roles where they can flourish.

When Daniel Schwartz became the chief financial officer of Burger King, he had previously managed only one person.

Schwartz started his career at the investment firm 3G Capital, which acquired Burger King in 2010. 3G’s founders embraced young talent, to his benefit, and managing partner Alex Behring made him CFO when he was only 29. He performed well and got the CEO job a few years later. Schwartz’s performance worked well enough that it led to the formation of Restaurant Brands International, which now contains BK, Tim Hortons, and Popeyes.

In an episode of Business Insider’s podcastThis Is Success,” Schwartz said that the biggest challenge of his career was making the transition from his financial role at 3G into a high-stakes management role, but that he used the firm’s partners as his mentors. He said the advice was “all about managing the people and not the business, and making sure you focus on a few things. Stay focused, don’t spread yourself too thin, but ultimately make sure you have the best, best people on your team.”

He said that this is manifested in two skills he’s honed: spotting talent, and putting people in the right roles.

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The day of the interview, Schwartz had recently visited Cornell, where he was personally meeting with students at a job fair. He takes a hands-on approach to recruiting, and his experience has taught him not to overlook someone because they are young. Schwartz said that being smart isn’t enough, and that he looks for hires who are self-motivated to work hard, open-minded, and humble. “I think if you’re working really hard, harder than all your peers, you’ll eventually be in a position to do something big at some point,” he said.

He wants Restaurant Brands International to work as a meritocracy, and he wants to not only reward initiative with increased responsibilities, but ensure that his managers place employees in roles that allow them to best utilize their skills, and move them into a new job if the role doesn’t take.

“By doing that, I think that’s what’s enabled the company to move at the pace that it’s moved,” Schwartz said.

Subscribe to “This Is Success” on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you listen. And listen to the full Daniel Schwartz episode below.