5 women power players share their secrets for success
Each March, Americans celebrate Women’s History Month to honor the important contributions of women to our country. Women have always played a key role in helping set the course for the restaurant industry’s future. According to the National Restaurant Association’s most recent research, about 52% of restaurant employees are female and 33% of restaurant businesses are majority-owned by women.
The Association had conversations with five successful women who are making a difference in their organizations: Selena Cuffe of SodexoMAGIC, Centerplate’s Dayanny De La Cruz, Raising Cane’s Lindsey Kramer, Brinker International’s Kristi Kingery and Firehouse Subs’ Meg Rose. Each shared her thoughts on succeeding in our business.
SodexoMAGIC, Los Angeles
“There are so many verticals, so much specialization, even in the types of restaurant operations to pursue. The advice I’d give to anyone curious about learning more or seeking a career in this industry is to have as many conversations as possible with individuals, female or male, who truly reflect a track record of success. Surround yourself with and build out a network of capable, results-driven, high-achieving performers. That's going to be the best possible circle you can place yourself in, to just be privy to where the next opportunity is, where innovation is coming from, and where the possibilities are to either dip a toe in the water, or find something that truly speaks to an existing passion.”
Dayanny De La Cruz
Centerplate Executive Chef (and first female chef for Super Bowl LIV)
Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, Fla.
“When I came to this stadium, the Super Bowl was already scheduled. I think my first thought was, ‘What would my Mom think?’ But I had experience at several venues where I’d worked culinary for NFL games and NBA basketball, and even specialty projects, like The Kentucky Derby and U.S. Open. I was used to those kinds of large events. I never really thought it was going to be so special because I’m female. I thought it would be special because we would bring the diversity of Miami into our stadium. I do have to say, it’s like we lit a spark that is now a little light. I want to make sure that candle stays lit. I want to tell every single female who wants to do this it’s not an easy pass, but you can do anything you want – if you put your mind to it.”
Safety & Security Manager, Fry Cook & Cashier
Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, Plano, Texas
“As a woman in business, I’ve faced some challenges but overcome them with hard work, determination and compassion. I have used those challenges as lessons and, in almost every instance, proved to myself I could push past any kind of discomfort to create a space of mutual respect. My advice to women seeking restaurant careers is don’t ever believe you can’t do something. I’ve taken the word can’t out of my vocabulary. And don’t ever trade your authenticity for approval. Always be yourself. This industry is one of growth, diversity, creativity and opportunity. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of those opportunities. Find areas of the business you’re passionate about, and never stop learning.”
Senior Director, Supply Chain
Brinker International, Dallas
“Supply chain management is more important to the restaurant industry than it’s ever been before. It used to be a sort of stepchild support service, but now it’s viewed as a strategic position. It’s important for restaurants to have a strong supply chain, and there are a lot of opportunities for women in this field. Throughout my tenure here, I feel I’ve been given opportunities equal to any man and I've seen the same for a lot of my coworkers and peers. There are plenty of opportunities for women to own their own merits and grow their careers within supply chain and foodservice. Also, mentoring is very important. It's great to have someone to lean on, but even more important than having a mentor is having a sponsor, someone who can advocate for you when you're not in the room.”
Vice President, Field Operations
Firehouse Subs, Jacksonville, Fla.
“You will always have a great place in this industry if you put your head down, work hard and learn. I also mentor many women. I can remember what it was like to be new, needing someone to talk to. At Firehouse, we are very fortunate to have five women in VP posts, great women who are committed to doing that for newer members of the team. It makes us all stronger if you can go to someone you trust, who will guide you down the path.”