Why did you decide to become a CDM?
I had been in the workforce for more than 24 years when I considered applying for my CDM. In the beginning, I was filled with uncertainties, wondering if my experience would be enough to get through the pre-requisite course and the CDM exam. I knew that I wanted to establish a platform that would add more value to my experience as well as my degree in Business Management, but I wasn’t sure until my director mentioned that I should consider pursuing my CDM. I pondered this for some time until I finally said to myself "I'm going for it."
What are your main responsibilities in your current position?
My current responsibility is to oversee the day-to-day operations of the Market Place which consists of 35 employees. The responsibilities include customer service, food preparation, payroll and timekeeping, scheduling, employee relations, cash management, purchasing, and more.
How do you organize your time at work to make sure you accomplish all your responsibilities?
Time management is very important in this role as it may change from day to day. On a good day, I’m on the floor during breakfast and lunch times and I try to multitask and get some administrative work done depending on the temperature of the day. For me to get the most out of my day, I use the late afternoon for all administrative work. I must admit, this can be challenging, but I make the best out of each day. I've learned over the years that time is a resource that I must cherish each day. I try not to waste time with pondering on what needs to get done by doing what must be done. My thought is "do what you must in the time allotted that you have."
What is an example of an innovative way you have made change at your facility and how did you implement it?
Our facility has really pushed to provide our customers with fresh local products and I played an important part in making sure that our staff was up to date and educated about what products we were bringing in. One of my favorite changes in the Market Place is the conversion of the salad bar. This conversion is part of our healthy choice program in which customers are given a variety of food toppings. For example, we use color coded pans: green means healthy, yellow means neutrally healthy and red means not as healthy. Our customers love this because they can make healthy food choices.
What was your first job in the foodservice industry?
My first job in the foodservice industry was at MCL Cafeteria. I worked as a dishwasher, bus boy, porter, etc. This job contributed greatly to who I am today. I learned about customer service, time management, as well as understanding the importance of being flexible and having a positive attitude. MCL Cafeteria was the gateway to where I am today.
Who has been your biggest mentor in foodservice and how have they helped shape your career?
My dad and my first manager named Mark Orr who retired here recently after 42 years of service were very instrumental in values that I demonstrate today. They taught me the importance of sacrifice, working hard, having a good work ethic, having a positive attitude, treating others with kindness and respect, and having compassion for others.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your position and how do you handle them?
From a management level, employee relations was a challenge for me in the beginning. This area pushed me to realize that every person is unique in their own way and that I must be understanding as well as firm when making difficult decisions.
What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is when I have the opportunity to encourage and motivate members of my team to be and do better. I find myself in many situations where coaching is required for many of my employees. I believe that people don’t know you care, until you show them you care. So, it makes me happy when I’m given opportunities to exhibit my openness and willingness to provide positive encouragement and/or support for the team.
How do you stay up to date with current innovations and trends?
I attend professional development, trainings, etc. that will increase my professional knowledge and provide information on upcoming changes in the industry. I also enjoy reading and cooking.
How do you envision the foodservice industry in the next few years and foodservice?
I envision the foodservice industry moving more to fresh and local products within the next few years. I feel that this is what many customers are asking for which will require the foodservice industry to have more partnerships with farm-to-table operations.
What is your advice to those just getting started in the foodservice industry?
My advice to a novice is to not get discouraged about starting off small. Be positive and cherish every opportunity you are given to learn. Don’t take any opportunity for granted, no matter how big or small. Always invest in yourself and your future, learn as much as you can, and get certified.