It’s hard to imagine the polished president of the Metro Atlanta Chamber soaring over Central American jungle in a helicopter mounted with machine guns.
But that’s exactly the picture Hala Moddelmog painted of her experience traveling with one of the wealthiest families in Honduras in an effort to open the market for the Church’s Chicken franchise.
Keynoting her first Global Impact Awards, Ms. Moddelmog passed on dry assessments of Altanta’s place in the world. Instead, she recounted some of her own impactful international experiences from an extensive career as CEO for Church’s, Arby’s and breast cancer foundation Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
While it’s relatively easy to open fried chicken restaurants overseas, it’s sometimes hard to protect your recipe, she said. Church’s operates as Texas Chicken in many countries, and after opening one in Taiwan, she quickly saw “California Chicken” open up down the street with strikingly similar flavors.
More rewarding than advancing the chicken chain, though, was helping shed light on a dark issue for many women.
The Susan G. Komen foundation had operations in more than 50 countries when Ms. Moddelmog was at the helm, and she traveled to open a hospital in Ghana and to work all over the Middle East.
Particularly stirring was when a visit by the foundation spurred Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah to speak the words “breast cancer” in Arabic publicly for the first time. Admitting the illness is taboo in the culture, she said, because women believe it will damage the family’s reputation.
“They knew that it was hereditary, and if they talked about it, it would diminish their daughters’ chances of getting married,” she said.
She ended on a lighter note, discussing her promising discussions with Brazilian franchisers during her trip earlier this month with Mayor Kasim Reed’s delegation. She also highlighted the Global Cities Initiative and said Atlanta is well on its way to advancing its name around the world.
Global Impact Award Winners (from the Metro Atlanta Chamber release):
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) – Interroll, an international leader in supplying key products for internal logistics.
Trade – Guided Therapeutics, the maker of a rapid and painless testing platform that utilizes light for the early detection of disease at the cellular level.
Service Provider – InterContinental Hotels Group, a global organization of hotel and resort brands with its Americas headquarters in Atlanta
Innovation – M2SYS Technology, Manufacturing Resources International (MRI), the emerging industry leader in high-performance indoor and outdoor digital displays.
Global Impact – This special award was given to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, which plans, manages and mobilizes state resources to attract new business investments to Georgia, drive the expansion of existing industry and small business and more. GDEcD is the state’s sales and marketing arm and lead agency developing new domestic and international markets. Additionally, it promotes Georgia as a top destination for arts event, film, music and digital entertainment projects.