Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Front and back of the house not for you? Try corporate HQ

Cable cooking shows glamorized the culinary field and attracted a whole generation of celebrity chef hopefuls. Yet restaurant industry opportunities go beyond the kitchen and the dining room.

As our professional networking groups demonstrate, restaurants offer opportunities for internal auditors, quality assurance specialists, marketers, and more.

“The industry now has a need — and a demand — for a greater variety of talent,” says Kevin Bechtel, senior vice president of purchasing and menu development for Shari’s CafĂ© & Pies, a family dining concept in the western United States. “You have to look for it all: purchasing, legal, HR."

Even real estate. Laurie Burns joined the restaurant industry in the late 1980s after receiving an MBA in real estate and finance. Her first job: scouting new locations for Taco Bell. Today, she's chief development officer for Darden Restaurants, which operates more than 1,500 restaurants, employs more than 150,000 people and serves more than 320 million meals a year.

The influx of non-traditional roles isn’t only opening various career options for those already in the industry; it’s also pulls in people who might never have considered a restaurant career.

Large companies such as Darden Restaurants and McDonald's seek a new breed of talent: people who know precisely how to tap into the latest tech to improve customer experiences.

McDonald’s, for example, recently opened a new tech hub in San Francisco. “We’re looking for Silicon Valley’s best when it comes to digital and IT,” says Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem, vice president of global media relations and issues management, McDonald’s. “The nature of the global business environment and our customers’ 24/7 digital lifestyles are driving this initiative.”

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