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2018 Distinguished Alumni Citation: Branden Gibson



Branden Gibson
Branden Gibson is recipient of a 2018 Distinguished Alumni Citation.

Photo by Jeff Fitlow

For a restaurant chain that doesn’t sell wings, Chick-fil-A represents a business leadership opportunity that has given Branden Gibson (’04) a set of his own, something the former ACU financial management major is taking full advantage of in his hometown of Houston, Texas.
Needing a break from school by the time he graduated, Gibson took some time off for introspection and several jobs, including work as a pharmaceutical sales representative for Boehringer Ingelheim. Along the way, he earned an MBA in 2011 and became director of operations for a Chick-fil-A store at Lake Houston that led in 2012 to an owner-operator role at another franchise on Wesley Chapel Road in Atlanta, Georgia.
Distinguished Alumni Citation: Recognizes distinctive personal or professional achievement that has merited the honor and praise of peers and colleagues.
He and his team there were among the top performers in the Southeast region in sales and profits. Three years later he returned to Houston as owner-operator of the store at Westheimer and Fondren.
Gibson has become a leader in the community while using the skills he forged on the Hill.
Time invested in Lynay with Dr. Gary McCaleb (’64), at Leadership Summit with Dr. Rick Lytle, in the Pope Fellows Program with Dr. Mel Hailey (’70), and in Galaxy social club left a deep and consistent impression on Gibson. “I learned what it meant to be a servant leader, to treat others with compassion and to put others first,” he said.
“I often wondered during my time at ACU why God had chosen to send me there,” he said. “At the time, although I enjoyed my time there, the reasoning wasn’t abundantly clear to me. It wasn’t until later in my career that I realized the skills, lessons and experiences gained were invaluable and not the norm in the marketplace. I was immensely fortunate to have been given the opportunity to study and grow in a safe, challenging and spirit-rich environment like ACU.”
His high-performing work earned him a seat on a board for Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy, along with a dozen other owner-operators across the nation. He’s also been featured on the company’s corporate website. Gibson believes the most effective servant leadership is first practiced within his team of 70 to 90 employees.
“My employees are my first guests,” Gibson said of his business, which eagerly looks for opportunities to engage with customers beyond offering them tasty food.
“We aim to love on employees and treat them with the utmost honor, dignity and respect,” he said. “In turn, we depend on them to pay it forward to other members of our community with exceptional service.”

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