Business Franchise Australia


Socially minded CEO selected to join World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leader

The young CEO of Zambrero today joined the illustrious company of Mark Zuckerberg, Marissa Mayer, Chelsea Clinton, Larry Page, David Cameron and Joe Hockey in being honoured as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

Stuart Cook, 29, is one of 187 individuals selected from thousands of international candidates to join the 2015 Forum of Young Global Leaders.

The Forum of YGLs is a community made up of the world’s next-generation of leaders. Bold, brave, action-orientated and under-40, these individuals have dedicated their time and talent to helping make the world a better place. They share a commitment to working with their peers to achieve results of genuine, global significance.

Cook was appointed CEO of Zambrero, a philanthropic Mexican quick service restaurant franchise, just before his 24th birthday in 2009.  For every burrito or bowl Zambrero sells, it donates another to people in need.  More than 4.5 million meals have been donated worldwide since another accomplished young Australian, Dr Sam Prince, founded Zambrero in 2005 aged 21. The two met in 2008 in India when Cook was visiting and Prince was visiting to receive an award from the Junior Chamber International as one of its 10 Outstanding Young People of the World, recognising his aid work in South-East Asia and Sri Lanka. 

“Like Sam, I’m motivated in business by making a difference in the world,” says Cook. “The private sector can play a major role in changing things for the better just as the economic policy of global leaders can. Joining the Young Global Leaders forum is a chance to surround myself with amazing global minds who are doing remarkable things and contribute to an ideas exchange that increases our collective positive impact in the world.

“One of the feedback points on my selection was that Zambrero is seen to be part of a rare but growing breed of socially minded businesses around the world. YGLs are selected from a variety of sectors and I’m one who represents part of a bridging group between social ventures and traditional businesses.”

“The YGLs include the world’s most pioneering, next-generation leaders who have developed in their journey to produce positive, tangible impacts in their countries, industries and societies,” said John Dutton, Director and Head of the Young Global Leaders Community at the World Economic Forum. “The class of 2015, together with the community over the past 10 years, shows how the future of business and public leadership is becoming more gender-equal, more geographically diverse, more varied in its expertise and is challenging established ways to get things done.”

Cook has led Zambrero from $1 million to more than $70 million in annual sales, now employing more than 2000 people across the group and numbering more than 70 restaurants across Australia, with a further nine overseas. Zambrero has been one of the country’s fastest growing franchises for the past five years.

In 2013, Stuart was named CEO Magazine’s Young Executive of the Year and in 2014 he moved to Bangkok to lead Zambrero’s international expansion.  Stuart is also the non-executive director of The Entourage, Australia’s largest educator of young entrepreneurs (aged 18 to 40).

YGLs typically engage with leaders outside their community, often serving as advisers to international organisations, governments and private institutions. They initiate new dialogues and platforms for action to address global challenges such as climate change, disease prevention, improving education and eradicating poverty. They develop authentic relationships with global peers far outside their traditional professional networks, giving them unique perspectives into world affairs and resulting in personal friendships that allow them to bring about positive change. Throughout a YGL’s six-year tenure they are fully involved and integrated in the World Economic Forum’s meetings, initiatives and research and will be invited to summits this year in India, China, Indonesia and the forum’s headquarters in Switzerland.

As well as the ability to network with peers and heads of state, he will have a particular collaboration with Thai entrepreneur Nick Pisalyaput. Four other Australians join the class of 2015 (Hugh Evans, Global Poverty Project), Hugh Whalan (Persistent Energy Ghana), Lauren Kelley Koopman (PwC) and Matthew Tilleard (CrossBoundary LLC).  The full list of 187 YGLs: