Key Takeaways Panel Discussion
Emily Williams Knight - moderator
Chief Collaboration Officer & EVP of Industry Relations | National Restaurant Association
In May 2019, Dr. Emily Williams Knight was appointed CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association and Education Foundation and officially assumed this leadership role on August 1, 2019. With more than 50,000 restaurants employing 1.3M Texans and posting sales of 70B in 2019, in her first year, Knight is at the forefront of leading one of the most important industries through the COVID 19 pandemic. Knight has been recognized as a fierce and effective leader, quickly securing several waivers from Governor Abbott while also lobbying and securing federal support to help the restaurant and foodservice industry survive.
Knight has more than 20 years of experience and success in national and global leadership positions. Prior to leading the TRA, Knight served as Managing Director of Higher Education North America at Study Group, a leading provider of international university education. Knight worked with top university leaders across the U.S. and Canada to build international student recruitment and education pathway programs. Her career includes senior leadership roles at Laureate and serving as President of Kendall College, a leader in hospitality and culinary arts education. During her time as Kendall’s president, Knight expanded access to culinary and hospitality education throughout the Midwest, Latin America, and the Middle East. She worked closely with the Illinois legislature to advance the industry and partnered with the Mayor of Chicago, Choose Chicago, and the Illinois Restaurant Association to drive Chicago visitors to a record 50 million per year.
Knight led student recruitment for two of the top five hospitality schools in the world located in Switzerland. She has partnered with private equity firms, associations, and the U.S. government to build veteran and at-risk training and certification programs and is a fierce advocate for the importance of career and technical education. Knight has extensive experience working with industry, workforce investment boards, and community colleges to create skills training programs designed to fill the growing number of restaurant and hospitality job openings.
Early in her career, Knight held several leadership roles at Pearson, including head of marketing for teacher education and head of sales for the west region. Out of undergraduate studies, she was recruited into Pizza Hut’s Management Training Program and served as a Catering Sales and Event Manager for Marriott’s Key West Resorts.
Knight holds a Doctorate in Higher Education Leadership from Walden University; an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Newbury College; a Master of Science in Management from Troy University in Alabama; a B.S. in Hospitality Administration from Boston University, where she was a Trustee Scholar and an A.S. in Hotel and Restaurant Administration from Newbury College where she was a Presidential Scholar and captain of the women’s basketball team.
Dr. Knight is a member of several boards, including the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF), where she serves as Treasurer. Knight serves on the Texas Travel and Tourism Board, the University of North Texas School of Hospitality Advisory Board and the Texas Business Roundtable. She is an adjunct faculty member at Southern New Hampshire University teaching courses in International Business, Management, Leadership and Consumer Marketing. Knight lives in Southlake, Texas with her husband and their 15-year-old twin daughters.
Knight is transitioning from her role as CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association after being selected as the Chief Collaboration Officer and EVP of Industry Relations for the National Restaurant Association located in Washington, D.C.
Chief Business Officer | Kitchen United
Atul Sood is the Chief Business Officer for Kitchen United and is responsible for spearheading strategic partnerships along with administrative and financial management. Prior to his role with Kitchen United, Atul was the Director of Business Development for McDonald’s Global Digital organization, where he was responsible for launching and managing McDonald’s food delivery partnerships. Atul began his career in investment banking and has, amongst other roles, founded, grown and sold his own start-up in the sales technology space.
Founder & CEO | Cuboh
Founder & CEO | FourBurner Technologies and OrderB4
Randy Murphy is Founder and CEO of FourBurner Technologies, Inc. and the OrderB4 software platform. Randy has led the company since launch in June 2019 via spin out from his then multi-brand, multi-unit restaurant operating company based in Austin, Texas.
FourBurner provides the white label, SaaS delivery platform (OrderB4) that allows restaurants, Ghost Kitchens and Virtual Brands to manage and perform their own delivery straight from the websites, not having to lose customers and profits to 3rd party delivery marketplaces.
Formerly, Randy was Co-Founder, Executive Chairman and CEO of Murphy Adams Restaurant Group, which at its peaked owned and operated over 40 total units of Mama Fu’s Asian House, Austin’s Pizza and East Side King brands over the past 15 years. That operation spanned across 9 markets, 3 states and 2 countries, and included significant investments and advancements in off-premise sales, technology and delivery logistics.
Randy began his professional career in hi-tech software development and sales, during which he owned and operated a software development and consulting business, Murphy Consulting as well as spent time at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Tivoli Systems, Lombardi Software and Digital Motorworks.
After 13 years in hi-tech, Randy began his transition over to the restaurant business where he and co-founder Mark Adams, launched the Mama Fu’s Asian House brand in 2008 under the Murphy Adams Restaurant Group name. Since then, Randy grew the Mama Fu’s brand to over 20 locations at its peak, acquired and sold Austin’s Pizza (15 locations) and opened a few locations of East Side King. Randy introduced core operational elements to these brands including operating their own delivery service, limited menus and full adoption of technology in all areas of the business.
After growing up in Anchorage, Alaska, and graduating from the University of Texas, Austin in 1993 with a BA in Economics and minors in Business Foundations and Art History, Randy and his wife Rebecca have lived in Austin, Texas for 30 years and have two children, Charlie and William.
Founder & CEO | Bear Robotics
John Ha is the Founder and CEO of Bear Robotics, Inc. From John’s hands-on restaurant experience, Bear Robotics is creating AI robotic products to innovate the way food services are operated. Prior to this role, he was a Technical Lead at Google and Adjunct Professor at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from The University of Texas at Austin.