It’s not a secret top positions at restaurants, from ownership stakes to executive chef roles, have historically been male-dominated. The barriers to entry are complex; not only are women up against internal biases and access to the right networking opportunities, they also have to contend with an industry with long hours and late nights, making it even more difficult for those who choose to have children and don’t have a partner to share the load with. That’s juxtaposed with the societal expectation women excel at being home cooks, according to traditional gender norms—which have thankfully been challenged within the past couple decades. (Lucky for me—I barely know how to make mac & cheese.)
Breaking the glass ceiling into the upper echelons of restaurant chains is something only a few women can claim, and this gender disparity is rooted in societal norms, stereotypes, and systemic biases. Efforts to address the disparities include mentorship programs, advocacy for equal opportunities and gender-inclusive hiring policies, women-centric culinary schools, industry awards and recognition, financial support and incentive programs, educational outreach, collaboration initiatives, and more.
But there seems to be room for more opportunity when it comes to a national society/networking group to support, educate, and uplift women in restaurant leadership—which is why FSR and our sister publication, QSR, are creating one. The idea was sparked when our editorial director, Danny Klein, had the idea to host an hour-long networking event at our September Atlanta-based conferences, QSR Evolution and the NextGen Summit. It was originally ideated as a five-person panel that soon became a 10-leader roundtable.
That morphed into a 25-person meetup to a 50-person one. We decided then to make it 75. Seventy-five became 100. Ultimately, we had to cap it at 155 restaurant leaders to keep the fire marshal from crashing the party. Even then, we had to turn people away at the door, which was both frustrating and inspiring. We knew there was a need we had tapped into, and we’re expanding upon that one-hour get-together by launching a fresh platform—Women in Restaurant Leadership, or WiRL.
WiRL will have programming throughout the year, including webinars, downloadable content, and more to be announced, plus an annual one-day conference this February in Nashville with speakers and educational sessions, dinner, and networking opportunities we’re calling “The Together Summit.” Our aim is to create a safe environment for women to connect, learn from one another, create mentorship opportunities, and gather career advancement advice and tips.
We’re excited to launch this, and know this is just the beginning. Registration opened this week and will have limited spots. So sign up today!
In honor of launching this initiative at FSR and QSR, we asked women leaders from around the industry two questions: “If you could offer advice to a woman starting in this industry looking to grow her career, what would it be?” And, “How do you balance career, personal life, and passions? Is there such a thing as balance?”
Here were their answers:
Chief development officer, Dave’s Hot Chicken
1. I would focus on these three things: learn the basics. Take time to understand the fundamentals of the quick-service industry, including guest service and restaurant operations. My background and experience in operations have been invaluable to my growth; show initiative. Be proactive and demonstrate your willingness to take on new responsibilities. Volunteer for projects that showcase your skills and dedication; develop strong communication skills. Being an effective communicator is crucial in the industry, whether you’re interacting with guests, staff or suppliers. Building strong relationships and having the skill set to resolve conflicts effectively is key.
2. Yes, there is such a thing as balance, and it is entirely within your control. YOU must be priority one! Some may think this is selfish, but it is critical in balancing your career and your personal life. Self-care practices, such as regular exercise, a healthy diet, and sufficient sleep are fundamental in maintaining physical health. When you’re physically well, you have the energy and vitality to tackle all of your daily responsibilities. If you don’t prioritize yourself as being number one, everything else in your career and personal life will suffer and you won’t be in balance.
Chief marketing officer, Bobby’s Burgers
1. Raise your hand for the projects that stretch your knowledge base. Specializing in an area of your field is exciting and excelling within that space is certainly rewarding. However, it is important to keep a curious mind and learn about all aspects of a business. This will serve you well when seeking to advance your career and when supporting the advancement of others. Ask to observe a project meeting involving teams you may not have the opportunity to interact with regularly or request a meeting from a leader within the company seeking to learn more about the organization as a whole.
When you are successful in scheduling those meetings, have questions prepared so you are able to gain the most knowledge from those valuable sessions. Finally, and most importantly, find a mentor. You will be amazed at the insights you gain when you simply connect with those who have achieved something you see as inspiring in your field. More often than you may know, mentors are just as honored you have requested their support and they will gain valuable knowledge from you in return.
2. Balancing career, personal life, and passions requires dedicated prioritization and time management. Establish a structured schedule that allows time for each, set clear boundaries, and stick to your calendar as best you can. Include self-care, know that it’s okay to adjust your priorities, and don’t hesitate to delegate or say no when necessary. While achieving a perfect balance may be elusive, these strategies can help you create a sustainable rhythm that aligns with your values and goals.
1. The food and franchising industries are amazing with so many opportunities and possible career trajectories. Start off working in a function that you enjoy and learn as much as possible about what your co-workers and peers do as well. Network, and attend conferences to bolster your skillsets and always be open to learning and continuous improvement. There are so many ways to excel and grow in your career. Remember the path to the top is not always linear so be open to exploring a variety of disciplines within the industries to make yourself more marketable. Find good mentors and advocates that will share opportunities with you as they become available and never be afraid to take measured risks.
2. I find that work life balance means different things to different people. In my life I had to realize I will never be able to give the same amount of time and energy to my career, personal life and passions 100 percent of the time, but I am OK with that. I have found a nice way to allocate time as needed so that all things that are important to me are given adequate time. I typically work very long hours, but I also believe in enjoying my life fully. I take at least one major vacation every year with family, and I find time for miniature extended weekend getaways with family and friends when possible. While I may not fully disconnect from work during a vacation, I do allocate a number of hours every day that are dedicated to being present and enjoying the time away. Philanthropy is a big part of my life as well and I schedule time to participate on boards and to give back to the community very regularly. There is a constant ebb and flow of how my time is allocated and I change my focus as needed. Over time this has become my balance.
Director, franchise training, Scooter’s Coffee
1. Be your whole self. The best version of yourself. Let go of the idea of who/what you think that other people think you should be. Once you do so then you can focus on your passion. I spent a great deal of time early in my career not knowing this. Once I let go of that mindset and began to fully bring myself to my profession and to my life in general that is when my career really began to take off. I connected with myself, and I connected with my passion.
2. I don’t balance it. Sometimes one takes priority over the other and I give myself grace and be OK with when that happens. If I am on vacation and end up responding to an email (OK I admit it’s more like a few) or answering a text, I don’t beat myself up over it. Instead, once I am done I focus back on enjoying where I am, what I am doing, and who I am with. Life is way too short to focus on what isn’t going as planned instead I rather just live it (life that is).
Director of development, Firehouse Subs
1. Get behind the counter—dig in and really understand what it means to serve guests and employees. Ask for informational interviews, or “coffee chats” with leaders of different departments (or even other brands) and make sure to share your strengths and dreams. This is a great way to not only learn about other facets of an organization, but also network for future opportunities. You might even find a mentor. And lastly, don’t lose yourself in the climb. Women have wonderful leadership characteristics that differentiate us from male leaders—embrace and celebrate them!
2. Personally, my career has been supported by what I’m passionate about: making meaningful connections and helping others pursue and achieve their dreams. Personal life is more challenging, especially as a full-time working and traveling mom. I’m very lucky to have a partner who fully supports my career growth and is incredibly engaged sharing the workload at home. If you haven’t found that partner yet, make sure they qualify! If you have a partner, talk about how to share duties at home so you can both achieve your goals.
SVP of franchising and field operations, Popeyes
1. Learn the business, explore the opportunities, and do the work to understand all the various dynamics that go into the quick-service restaurant industry. There are many women (and men) out there that will be proud to discuss their career and offer insights on yours—networking can lead to some great perspectives and mentorship. Once you find parts of the business that really excite you, dive in, do the hard work and own your success.
2. You can have it all, but you can’t have it all at once. I combine a lot of my personal life with work so that there is a constructive dynamic across both facets of my life. I have had great adventures while I have been building my career. I intentionally find time to do what I love most: travel. I adore learning about new cultures and experiencing new things, which helps me approach business with a well-rounded perspective.
VP of development, Checkers and Rally’s
1. In your career journey, it’s crucial to remain open to new opportunities that facilitate your growth, even if the path doesn’t always seem linear or logical. Take my experience, for instance, starting as an attorney in a private law firm and now, the Vice President of Development overseeing franchise sales, recruitment, real estate, and construction for a quick-service restaurant; it may not have followed a traditional trajectory, but it led me to a role about which I’m deeply passionate. To excel, expand your knowledge beyond your specific responsibilities, understanding the broader context of your industry to enhance your effectiveness. Cultivate curiosity, identify admirable leaders within your organization, and emulate their qualities. Moreover, don’t shy away from calculated risks, alternative perspectives, seeking constructive feedback, or being the only woman in the room, as these experiences all contribute significantly to your personal growth and development.
2. Striking a balance can often feel challenging and overwhelming. Personally, I’ve discovered that discipline is the key to achieving balance. I meticulously plan not just my week but also my month and even my entire year. Every evening, I jot down the tasks for the following day, and each morning, I dedicate a precious 15 minutes to savor my personal time before the day commences. I make it a point to incorporate four to five weekly workouts because I enjoy the benefits I gain from the gym. Additionally, I ensure I indulge in something that rejuvenates me every weekend, whether it’s a leisurely walk, a bike ride, a visit to my favorite restaurant, or a brief 30-minute period to read a fun book.
Chief marketing officer, Smoothie King
1. Embrace your unique perspective and strengths as a woman in the quick-service industry. Stay true to your values, work hard, and keep pushing the boundaries—your determination and commitment will be your greatest assets in achieving your career goals in this dynamic and competitive field. Diversity in leadership is essential for the success of any organization, and new perspectives can bring fresh ideas and innovation to the business. Don’t be afraid to speak up, take on challenges, stand for something and demonstrate your leadership skills. Try to seek out mentors who can provide guidance and support as you navigate your career, and when you have the opportunity, chase the experience not the paycheck.
2. Balancing career, personal life, and passions is an ongoing journey, and it’s essential to acknowledge that the concept of “perfect” balance may not always be achievable. Priorities between work and homelife continually shift, so I strive for harmony by prioritizing what truly matters to me at different stages of life. Delegate when possible, ask for support, and don’t hesitate to say “no” when it’s necessary. Remember, you are not alone, and reaching out to your support network, whether it’s your partner, family, or friends, can make all the difference and help keep your sanity. That being said, I do question why women in leadership are asked this question time and time again and yet I rarely hear that question posed to men in the workplace.
Chief development officer, Tropical Smoothie
1. For women who are entering the restaurant industry, my biggest piece of advice would be to commit to being bold and never let yourself stop learning. A large reason I’ve found success in my career is because I have pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and have taken on new challenges. I’ve continually learned from my mentors and other leaders in the industry, and they have taught me the importance of working cross-functionally and being very collaborative as a team. How you work and get things done is also very important. Additionally, I would say it’s crucial to select an organization that aligns with your core values. This can make a huge difference in how deeply you are able to connect with your team and the brand as a whole.
2. Balancing your career, personal life and passions can look different for every person. While I personally believe it’s important to strike the right balance, that balance looks different at every stage of your life. For example, throughout my career I have had to realign my priorities to keep more balance in my life. When my eldest son was one year old, I made the decision to slow down and work part-time for a couple of years so I could dedicate more time to my family. It was hard, but now that my two boys are graduating from college and on their own, I can say it was one of the best decisions. I have learned that in order to succeed at the highest level you need to plan, prioritize, and build a great team so you can depend on others, whether it’s work-related or personal. Long story short—balance is achievable, but the definition of what balanced is looks different for every individual.
Chief Legal Officer, Caribou Coffee
1. Embarking on a career in this dynamic industry is an exhilarating journey. My advice for any woman just starting out would be to build meaningful networks, stay curious and updated on industry trends through continuous learning, and join resource groups that will connect you with other women. At Caribou Coffee, we recently launched a Women’s Employee Resource Group. This is something I wish all women had the opportunity to be a part of at the start of their careers. As an executive sponsor, I’m excited to deliver on our mission to foster a diverse, inclusive workplace that empowers women. The fact that about 80 percent of our team members and guests are female, underscores the significance of diverse perspectives.
2. Juggling a busy career, personal life, and hobbies can get pretty tricky. Being promoted to Chief Legal Officer at Caribou Coffee this past spring made me realize that I need to be super clear about what matters most to keep a good work-life integration. Instead of trying to create an even balance, I’ve learned that it’s all about prioritization and making it all work together. It is important to recognize the dynamic nature of life too so you can quickly adapt to changes and curveballs that will inevitably come your way. There are ebbs and flows in all aspects of life and sometimes you need to pay attention to certain areas more than others. To that end, I try to focus on the rewarding journey of finding joy in both my work and personal life and attending to the needs of myself and others in real time. It will never be easy, but it is possible, and it will pay off.
Vice President of franchise development, Smashburger
1. Embarking on a successful journey in the restaurant industry requires more than just technical expertise, it demands cultivating genuine relationships and the bravery to step into uncharted territories. Networking is the bedrock of your career; invest time and effort in forming authentic connections, regardless of job titles. Don’t shy away from introductions; these relationships often evolve into meaningful mentorships, providing guidance and opportunities for growth that surpass the reach of any other platform. Embrace the philosophy of ‘leaning in’ and immerse yourself in continuous learning while being open to venturing outside your career comfort zone. Women, in particular, tend to hold back, applying only when they fulfill every job requirement.
Challenge this habit; I once did: Applied for a job despite not meeting all criteria, and it propelled my career to new heights. Understand that your career path might not follow a linear trajectory and it could involve lateral moves into challenging fields. That’s perfectly acceptable! Most importantly, seek out a brand that aligns with your values and beliefs. Align yourself with a company whose culture resonates with you. Advocating for such a brand will not only inspire you but also create a sense of purpose, empowering you to thrive in your professional journey.
2. Balancing career, personal life, and passions, especially as a mother of two young children and a co-owner of a restaurant, is challenging. Initially, finding balance wasn’t a priority, but it changed after my daughter’s birth. I set clear work boundaries, and I’ve been fortunate to work for companies that respect employees’ personal lives. While work emergencies occur, and I travel frequently, I prioritize family time after work, ensuring we engage in activities we love.
CEO, Smalls Sliders
1. To a fellow woman aspiring to grow her career in the restaurant industry, here’s my heartfelt advice: One, keep that hunger for success (or betterment) burning, never let it fade. It’s easy to get lost in the daily grind and lose sight of your initial spark or even your dreams. Remind yourself of your purpose and the change you’re driving—it will propel you forward. Don’t let setbacks (or anyone) hold you from your goals; two, be bold, embrace your confidence, and don’t shy away from speaking up, taking risks, and grabbing new opportunities. Playing it safe seldom leads to real growth. You are not a victim, and you can do the hard stuff well. Don’t hold yourself back; three, arrogance and ignorance have no space in achieving your goals. Vulnerability matters and asking for help is a sign of strength. You don’t need to wear a cape every day. Find mentors that care and peers (male or female) that truly want the best for you.
Honest relationships matter; lastly, I can’t stress enough how vital it is for all of us, regardless of gender, to champion diversity and inclusion. When we celebrate our differences and unite, we can advocate for equal opportunities (parity and equity) and ensure our place in this industry is truly valued. By building an inclusive and diverse network of peers, you’re not just benefiting your career; you’re laying the groundwork for positive change in the restaurant industry—something I hold very close to my heart.
2. You know, it’s interesting how this question about balancing career, personal life, and passions often seems to be directed more at women than men. It can feel like women are frequently asked to explain how they manage everything while men are not as often put in the same spotlight. But the truth is, everyone—regardless of gender—faces the challenge of striking a balance in their lives. We all have our unique set of responsibilities, goals, dreams, and passions that we’re juggling. Finding that balance is a personal journey.
It’s about figuring out what truly matters to you, setting boundaries, and being available for the things that bring you joy and fulfillment. And remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this. It’s about finding your own rhythm and making it work for you. I refer to it as tradeoffs (more than balance), and this requires some discipline, collaboration, and practice. Practice careful prioritization and delegation. While ‘balance’ may not always be perfect, it’s essential to identify your priorities and align them with your values. Delegate tasks where possible, empower your team, and ensure you have a strong support system. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to commitments that don’t align with your goals.
Strategy director, The Culinary Edge
1. Be endlessly curious. One of the reasons I love the food industry is because it sneakily interacts with every other industry—tech, finance, design, architecture, agriculture, even healthcare. Zoom out and look at the bigger picture, then dig into what interests you most. This will help you become a specialist with big-picture perspective, which will take you far.
2. Of course, there’s such a thing as balance, but it’s a constant practice, not something to be “achieved.” While I by no means claim to be perfectly balanced, I’ve found that creating clear boundaries for my time (and having the discipline to uphold them) is half the battle. For me, that can be as simple as logging off religiously at 5 p.m. every day or as complex as turning down clients altogether to focus on separate passion projects. And, as an aside, I would interrogate the need to ask this question of women specifically and why we don’t ask men about how they balance career with personal life.
1. Build relationships that go beyond your team, your department, and current company. Get to know people cross functionally and listen to their day-to-day role and struggles. Get involved with extracurricular activities both for the company and for your community.
2. I’m a fan of the term “work-life integration” instead of “work-life balance.” It’s important to me that I’m able to decide on the best time to do “work” and “personal.” You’ll find me shuttling my daughter to activities at 4 p.m. and catching up on emails after 8 p.m. I also love weekend mornings for strategic, heavy lifting “work” as that’s when my brain is often at its best. Of course, this needs to be all planned out without impacting others’ work and making sure I am available for my teams whenever they need me.
Roberta Amy Parman
Senior director of people operations, Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe
1. Firstly, grow a thick skin without having a hard heart. If your need to avoid criticism or conflict keeps you from speaking or acting or puts you on the defensive when confronted, you’re already self-limiting your opportunities. Learn how to have Crucial Conversations (a book I recommend). Second, take care of yourself well. Hospitality is an industry of givers, but we struggle to give to ourselves. In a recent presentation by Tal Ben Shahar on stress and performance, he taught the lowest performers are givers, but so are the highest. The difference is the highest performers don’t just give to others, like the lowest performers. They also give to themselves. And lastly, find a mentor! It doesn’t have to be a formal program. Just identify someone in your life you want to be like who has more experience than you do and ask to learn from them.
2. Balance is such a personal concept. I think the most important thing to do is self-exploration to really learn about yourself and what you need as an individual to thrive. Some people need more boundaries to maintain balance, while others need less of them. I’m fortunate to have found a career that incorporates many of the values I’m passionate about, which include service to others and seeing people reach for their potential, discovering the great things they’re capable of being and doing, so it is inherently rewarding and energizing. That said, I know that I’m someone who needs to schedule—and that is the key, to schedule it—down time to enjoy my personal hobbies like gardening, reading, and cooking. As we recently taught our managers during one of Development Days for them, we all get the same time budget—168 hours per week—to live our lives. And just like a budget, allocating time for the areas that are important to you has to be a proactive decision, rather than a reactionary one. Between knowing your personal balance point and budgeting your time accordingly, I absolutely believe it’s possible to frame a fulfilling life.
Korey Love Taylor
Director of digital engagement, Taco John’s
1. Invest in yourself by pursuing further education, building valuable connections, and learning everything there is to know about the industry you are most passionate about. Having the expertise to make your goals achievable and approaching projects from a position of understanding can prove to be invaluable.
2. Prioritizing what holds the greatest significance for you and recognizing your personal limits is the key to finding balance. You can strive for it all with finely tuned time management skills. Establishing both personal and professional goals will help you attain the stability you desire.
Senior Director of Marketing, BRIX Holdings
1. My advice would be to encourage her not to hesitate when it comes to taking the initiative and seizing opportunities as they present themselves. Embrace challenges that push you beyond your comfort zone and actively seek ways to enhance both your skills and your professional network.
2. Balancing a career, personal life, and pursuing one’s passions is an ongoing challenge, and achieving a perfect balance may not be realistic. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to establish clear boundaries to safeguard your personal time and interests. This could involve defining specific work hours, dedicating quality time for family and loved ones, and prioritizing activities that ignite your passions and well-being, such as exercise. Recognizing and respecting these boundaries can contribute to a more harmonious life blend. I’m continuously striving to achieve it!
Director of marketing, OneTable Restaurants/Tocaya Modern Mexican
1. Don’t be afraid to explore various aspects of the business. I began my journey in the restaurant industry as a host at the age of 15, thinking I would pursue the operations path. However, an opportunity arose when I was asked to fill in for the sales manager at the restaurant where I worked. My general manager was my biggest supporter and allowed me to step in during her absence. Little did I know that this experience would be the catalyst for my career in restaurant marketing.
I consider myself fortunate to have had several exceptional mentors along the way. Seek out individuals in roles that align with your aspirations or interests, and don’t hesitate to ask questions and offer your assistance. One of the reasons I cherish the restaurant industry is the culture of mutual support; no one is above helping one another. You do what you have to do to get the job done, so always offer to help and learn while you go.
2. Striking a balance can be challenging, especially since I welcomed my daughter into my life two years ago. I’ve improved at establishing boundaries for myself, ensuring that I update my calendar and adjust my phone settings to indicate when I’m unavailable. Fortunately, I work for a company with colleagues who value flexibility and understanding, which is essential for preserving quality family time.
Director of marketing, OneTable Restaurants/Tender Greens
1. My advice has always been: “Know your worth and potential.” Confidence is key to excelling in your career. You are your own biggest obstacle, but you can also be your greatest asset. Success is in your hands, so believe in yourself and don’t hesitate to voice your thoughts and ideas. Additionally, don’t be afraid to seek help when needed. Your colleagues are there to support you, so build strong relationships in the office to create a reliable support system.
2. Balancing my roles as a new mother and working full-time is a challenge I’m currently facing. I’ve discovered that establishing clear boundaries is essential, both for personal well-being and for maintaining effective work relationships. Creating a structured daily routine has proven to be quite effective for me in this endeavor. For example, I’ve chosen not to engage in work-related communication before 8:30 a.m. or after 5 p.m. to prioritize my family during those hours. Once my baby is asleep around 7 p.m., my husband and I reserve that time for ourselves and our relationship. I say this now but here I am writing this response after 6 p.m., which is an occasional occurrence, but I’m mindful not to let it become a habit. While there may be times when additional evening work hours are necessary, I make a point to view them as exceptions rather than the rule.
Cofounder, Saigon Hustle and Ordinary Concepts
1. Never stop learning and networking. It’s been my motto throughout my career. A person you meet today might not help you get to the next step in your career, but they may introduce you to someone who will. When I look back at all the connections I’ve made, it’s always been within arm’s reach of someone else. I have found so much value in telling my story and what I’m trying to accomplish.
2. Balance for me isn’t something you find but something you create—and it looks different for everyone. For me, balance is being able to efficiently and effectively juggle meetings throughout the day, make it to my kids’ soccer games, and end the evening with date night with my husband. I make sacrifices all week to make sure I’m there for the most important aspects of my life. That’s what refuels my passion for what I do.
Chief marketing officer, Newk’s Eatery
1. Find a great female leader as a mentor. Find someone in your field that started out at the bottom and worked her way up. She can help guide you to make the best decisions on career moves, how to advance in your job, and even how to work better with your manager.
Build your network. Instead of eating at your desk every day, schedule lunches with vendors and other people in your industry. Building a solid network will not only help you make friends in the industry but also can help you if you are looking for your next opportunity.
2. Personally, when I am organized, I feel my life is balanced. Having a work and family calendar that is synced is the best way I can make sure there is true balance. I block time on my calendar for family events that are important as well as work priorities. Something I learned later in my career and what I teach my team today is work stops at 5:30. Emails can wait. Emergencies are always a text or phone call away. If I choose to work late or on the weekends, I always pre-schedule emails to send during work hours. That way my team doesn’t feel like they have to respond when they are with their families. There can be a balance if you determine what your priorities are and what you should put most of your energy toward.
Cass Tenney and Briana Stewart
Director of real estate development and director of marketing, Savory
1. BS: If you want to grow in your career, you’ve got to show up. Big time. Do the hard things. Do the little things. Do the cool things. Do the beneath-you things. Be a leader. Be a team player. Be a confidant. Be a collaborator. Career growth almost always comes from being the person everyone relies on and the person everyone wants to have in the room.
2. CT: There is no such thing as balance! Early on in my career, I decided I was going to “do it all,” and boy was I humbled when I had kids and tried to juggle everything. I know I cannot be the BEST at all my hats every single day, but I will ALWAYS wear them all and figure out which hat needs to be the priority. Those priorities change daily, and I just ask for forgiveness when I can’t do it all in a day.
President of Salata
For women entering the industry, my most important piece of advice is to avoid waiting for opportunities to present themselves. Instead, find ways to take the initiative and actively seek the advancement out. Even if you may not fully know how to do something, don’t be afraid to try new things and learn from others—this will be invaluable as you enter new roles. This also demonstrates that you are willing to learn and improve upon your trajectory. Networking is also another invaluable skill that can continuously help you further your career. It is a skill that is instilled within professionals from the beginning, and the quicker one masters this, the easier it becomes to form meaningful connections. Networking can be done in many forms including attending events, joining associations and engaging on social media platforms, all of which are beneficial to your career growth. Throughout my career, I’ve come to understand that the restaurant industry is a constantly evolving environment. It’s through resilience and years of encountering ups and downs that you can truly set yourself apart and chart a course for career growth.
As we all know, restaurant roles can often create long, tiring hours if you let it. As someone who has navigated the challenging waters of a work-life balance for years, I can attest that achieving a perfect balance is a continuous journey, and that’s okay! I’ve come to appreciate that the thought of ‘balance’ is a dynamic one. For me, I’ve found that creating a morning routine of helpful habits or, “me time,” allows me to really tackle the rest of the day. In the morning, I find pleasure in quiet moments, savoring my coffee, participating in devotional time, and riding bikes together with my family. This truly assists us in starting the day with the right mindset and a sense of balance. Starting my day with 1:1 family time and being active is the key to remaining level headed and I feel the same about coming home and being able to unplug. After the day has ended, I make an effort to disconnect from work-related calls or emails. This separation helps me recharge and be fully present with my friends and family. That being said, another valuable lesson I learned early on is to be unafraid of leaning on others as a support system when needed. Reliable loved ones or trusted colleagues can provide invaluable assistance in a crucial time and really help to bridge the gap. In conclusion, balance is a personal journey — what works for one person may not work for another, so it’s essential to find what works best for you.
Formerly Raising Cane’s, Wingstop, Walk-On’s, 10-year Pepsi vet
1. First, ask for what you want and need to be successful. Be thoughtful and be informed, but don’t be afraid. The answer is yes, no, or not now 99.9% of the time.
Second, know the top and bottom line levers for your business. Be clear on what and how the organization and your leaders are measured for short- and long-term performance. Change your focus if your current initiatives and resources don’t align with those goals.
Third, invest your time in your people. No matter what industry you are in or what product you make, you are always a people business first.
2. I don’t know that I ever wanted to achieve balance. That would make the goal to try not to move in any direction. What I did have to learn after having children was the art of intentionality. When I was with my family, I wanted to be present for the things that they enjoyed and create memories. This meant a lot of unglamourous summer camps and outdoor adventures. When I was away, I shared with the kids how much I enjoyed the people I worked with and what I was doing so they knew my career brought a different joy and sense of fulfillment. Both my career and personal side required me to be intentional with my time, and presence to be there both mentally and physically. Now that my children are older, I am grateful that they’ve been able to see my mom side and my leadership side.