Chief Experience Officer, Victoria Gastro Pub, Columbia
What sparked your interest in your career field?
This is an easy one — my mom. When I was 4 months old, my mother started making all the desserts for her mother's restaurant. She was self-taught and loved being in the kitchen. She passed her love for food to me. So, naturally, I went to culinary school to pursue my passion for food. Where Mom is definitely the baker of our family, I enjoy cooking dishes that I can throw together depending on my mood or the season. I hate following recipes — even though sometimes it must be done. Creating a unique pairing to complement flavors with tasty libations is always a fun way to take it to the next level of gastronomy.
What has been your greatest professional challenge?
As chief experience officer for our Victoria Restaurant Group, my primary focus is customer satisfaction. From the moment I walk into the pub, I spend most of my time with our guests to make sure we are exceeding their expectations. Many of our first-timers can't believe that the namesake owner is actually visiting with them. So, like most professionals, I'm time starved. I could spend every hour that we're open interfacing with our customers, but then who would manage our social media and my other corporate responsibilities? It's always tricky to continue having any kind of social life when your work schedule gets in the way, but thankfully I have been able to incorporate some of my work with play. It's important to make time for social and family events when you can.
What has been most rewarding about your work?
Another easy one — the people. When we opened, we wanted to create a "Cheers" environment where "everybody knows your name." Well, while I don't yet know all of our guests' names, I have made innumerous friendships. Some of my BFFs were once guests at the pub. It's always great when you make that personal connection with someone new and are able to brighten up their day or vice versa. The fact that I'm such a social butterfly makes checking in with our guests experience the fun part of my day. It has also been a real thrill to work so closely with my family. We all have such unique talents that we bring to the business that complement one another in an awesome way.
What advice can you offer women trying to establish their careers?
Work hard. Stay positive. Be a leader, not a follower. Do something you like. When you follow your passion, work is more fun, and success comes naturally. If you can, find a job with some flexibility. I think as a woman that will help you to be successful in the long run, as your family dynamic may change over time.