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How I Got Here: Missy Schaaphok

How I Got Here: Missy Schaaphok

Published 04-26-24

Submitted by Yum! Brands

Missy Schaaphok and the Taco Bell logo

In the #HowIGotHere series, you’ll read about the career paths of some of the world-renowned leaders at Yum! Brands. Learn more about Missy Schaaphok, Director of Global Nutrition & Sustainability at Taco Bell in this installment.


  • Del Mar High School 
    San Jose, California, United States (1997 - 2001)
  • San Diego State University 
    Bachelor of Food Science & Nutrition and Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) San Diego, California, United States(2003-2005)
  • University of Delaware 
    Masters Studies, Practicum for RD Credentials Newark, Delaware, United States (2008 – 2009)

If we were to interview your teachers, what would they say about you?

Missy had a genuine enthusiasm for learning and was determined to succeed. She actively pursued opportunities to broaden her skillset from being School Nutrition Association president to working with U.S. Olympic Training Center chefs.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Since I was 11, I envisioned myself as a veterinarian, influenced by my upbringing surrounded by various animals – from dogs and cats, to pigs I raised for 4-H and horses I worked with. However, upon entering pre-vet school, I discovered a greater passion for food, leading me to transfer to San Diego State University to pursue that interest.


First Job: At 10, I started my first paid job, in which I spent hours on my bedroom floor hand-addressing envelopes for my mom's boss. She was good at finding jobs for my brother and me, which taught us valuable skills.

  • Rubio’s Restaurants, Inc., San Diego, California, United States
    2004-2006: Food & Beverage Technician
  • Glanbia Foods, Inc., San Diego, California, United States
    2006-2008: Research & Development Scientist
  • Healthy Directions of Poway, San Diego, California, United States
    2008-2009: Nutrition & Marketing Consultant
  • The Food Collective, San Diego, California, United States
    2009-2011: Nutrition & Marketing Consultant
  • American Red Cross WIC Program, San Diego, California, United States
    2009-2011: Nutrition Education Program Manager
  • Taco Bell, Irvine, California, United States
    2011-2012: Product Developer
    2012-2014: Product Developer & Nutritionist
    2014-2016: Associate Manager, Nutrition Strategist
    2016-2017: Senior Associate Manager, Nutrition Strategist
    2017-2020: Manager, Global Nutrition & Sustainability and Yum! Global Dietitian & Sustainability Lead
    2020-2021: Senior Manager, Global Nutrition & Sustainability and Yum! Global Dietitian & Sustainability Lead
    2021-present: Director of Global Nutrition & Sustainability and Yum! Global Dietitian & Sustainability Lead
  • Green Places, Irvine, California, United States
    2022-present: Advisor

What moments, or who, in your life influenced the way you work?

Before I fully realized it myself, my animal science professor discerned that veterinary studies might not align with my true aspirations. His question, “Is this what you really want to do?”, resonated deeply with me, as it was the first time my path had been challenged. After reflecting on this, I made the pivotal choice to change my career trajectory.

I quit my full-time, well-paying, secure job at Glanbia Foods to return to school to become a registered dietitian. I realized that I wanted to open up my options and felt that the having these credentials would offer me more opportunities. Despite the skepticism of others, I had no regrets about this choice and have trusted my instincts ever since.

The opportunity at Taco Bell has been transformative. I was initially hired for product development, and I am deeply grateful to our Chief Food Innovation Officer Liz Matthews for taking a chance on me. This opportunity has evolved, allowing me to lead nutrition, and now, sustainability. Under her guidance, I've developed invaluable skills that define my leadership style and business acumen today.

Do you believe in work/life balance?

Balancing the demands of work and personal life is an ongoing challenge. Achieving perfect equilibrium is rare, but it's about effectively managing priorities while maintaining personal well-being. Organization, planning and setting boundaries are crucial in navigating these competing demands successfully.

What do people think you do versus what you actually do?

Most people think that I spend my days solely cooking and developing recipes, and that I have the ability to bring back any of their past favorite menu items and keep them on the menu forever.

My elevator pitch for what I actually do is: I make tacos and burritos – and what they come wrapped in – better for you and the planet.

What is the best piece of advice that you've been given?

Just ask. The worst they can say is no.

What makes you happy?

I find happiness in outdoor activities. On most weekends, my fiancé, dog and I explore nature through camping, snowboarding, mountain biking or taking our teardrop trailer to immerse ourselves in the natural beauty around us.

How do you do it?

I approach things with a mindset of being "patiently persistent." Much of my work unfolds over the long term, requiring both patience to see projects through and persistence to ensure they're executed effectively.

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Yum! Brands

Yum! Brands

Yum! Brands, Inc., based in Louisville, Kentucky, has over 54,000 restaurants in more than 155 countries and territories, operating the Company’s brands – KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell – global leaders of the chicken, pizza and Mexican-style food categories. The Company’s family of brands also includes The Habit Burger Grill, a fast-casual restaurant concept specializing in made-to-order chargrilled burgers, sandwiches and more. Yum! Brands was named to the 2021 Dow Jones Sustainability Index North America and was ranked on Newsweek’s list of 2021 America’s Most Responsible Companies. In 2022, Yum! Brands was named to 3BL Media’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens.

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