Punit Naran at the Yum Brands headquarters in Louisville.
Punit Naran at the Yum Brands headquarters in Louisville.

Punit Naran received his diploma from the College of Business during UofL’s commencement ceremony May 11. That following Monday, the Computer Information Systems major from Louisville returned to the job he already had lined up.

Since December, Naran has been working full time as a computer systems analyst for Yum Brands, the Louisville-based global restaurant company that owns KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. He has interned for the company since his sophomore year, working on a number of projects such as the development of IT systems, financial systems and brand integrations.  

He believes UofL has positioned him favorably for such a unique, hands-on opportunity.

“My curriculum was much tailored to today’s trends/needs in the CIS field, allowing for the skillsets learned to be immediately applied in my current role. The support and guidance of my professors and university staff really helped facilitate my steps in the corporate world,” he said. “Each of my professors went above and beyond to set me up for success.”

Not every student is so lucky to have an immediate tie to their major or a proven outcome so early in their careers. Naran believes that’s where UofL offers a bit of an advantage.

“Because of the partnerships that UofL has with major corporations like Yum, it allows for many opportunities even before you graduate. Without the chance to have an internship with Yum during my undergraduate studies, I would not be in the role I am today,” he said. “Many times companies hire talent within the company and invest in training them for the skillsets needed. In my case, this is exactly what happened. It was a right-person, right-time scenario.”

So far, he enjoys that scenario tremendously. Yum, he said, encourages a positive culture that includes a work/life balance (such as half-day Fridays), touts inclusivity and more.

“The fun company culture really sets them apart in retaining and developing strong talent,” he said.

Naran plans to stay in Louisville for now. He eventually wants to obtain a few professional certifications before completing his MBA. As he forges his career path, he will continue to pull motivation from his parents.

“My father only completed middle school and my mother only high school. They came to America to start a family with just a few dollars and no English knowledge,” Naran said. “Today, they’re well recognized within the real estate and hotel businesses and are self-made entrepreneurs. My parents’ work ethic and resilience to strive for better led them to where they are and they provided me with everything needed to go achieve something they never had the chance to do which is attend college.”

Naran’s ultimate career goal is to end up in the c-suite as a chief information officer for a Fortune 500 company.

“Stay tuned,” he said.

Of note, Yum Brands has been on the Fortune 500 list for the past 20 years. In 2018, the company was ranked No. 472 with about $5.9 billion in revenues.