Alumni Spotlight Business & Economy Georgia Impact

Leo “Chris” Kasuya: Irresistible Foods

As director of strategy and new ventures at Irresistible Foods Group, Leo "Chris" Kasuya helps bring products to new markets and new customers. He is a 2022 UGA 40 Under 40 honoree, earning congratulations from Hairy Dawg. (Photo/The Decisive Moment)

If you ask Leo “Chris” Kasuya BBA ’14, BBA ’14 about his career path, his answer is simple: “Well, I don’t know if I’ve selected one.”

That’s because to Kasuya, it’s not necessarily about picking a path. It’s more important to embrace life’s opportunities and find ways to create value or make an impact.

“Being born in Japan and moving to the U.S. when I was 10, I am a huge believer that once you have experienced more than one culture, one is not enough,” Kasuya says. “You need to experience and celebrate all different cultures. And that’s something I was fortunate to be born into, and it is something my family has celebrated throughout my life.”

While all of his roles have utilized his business degree from Terry College, Kasuya has worked in several fields. He worked in management consulting after graduation, took time off to travel the world, and founded a digital media company. Now, with several more stamps in his passport, Kasuya works as director of strategy and new ventures at Irresistible Foods Group (IFG), the parent company of beloved bread brand King’s Hawaiian.

“I’ve focused on opportunities that will allow me to learn and grow, to create value, solve problems, and ultimately pursue what I feel like is my life purpose: to build bridges or be the bridge,” Kasuya says.

In his role with IFG, Kasuya leads a variety of efforts related to developing and executing strategic initiatives, including acquiring new brands and international expansion efforts. As a 100% family-owned business, King’s Hawaiian, and now IFG, use a 73-year history to share products with consumers around the world, and Kasuya is at the helm of those efforts. Established in September 2021, IFG has since added two new brands: Grillo’s Pickles and Shaka Tea.

“I’ve been with IFG since the beginning and helped build it from an idea to what it is today, and from a personal standpoint, it has been fun to lean into my entrepreneurial energy and spirit,” he says. “It all started by creating our strategic plan which answers three questions. First, when we get there, what is there? This is about setting our North Star. Once you answer that question, you then need to answer how are we going to get there? And the final question is, what do we do now? What are the things we need to focus on starting today?”

As a part of this strategic plan, international expansion is a key area of focus, and Kasuya is excited to help continue expansion into new markets. King’s Hawaiian is sold in 18 countries today and continues to grow.

“It’s been really cool to be able to start working on expanding Irresistible products, not just across the U.S., but around the world,” he says.