My parents were missionaries, and I spent most of my youth living in Congo/Zaire, Africa. That experience taught me many valuable lessons including the importance of self initiative, risk taking, and hard work. One could say that I developed my passion for the food business at the age of 7, working kitchen duty in the boarding school I attended. I continued working kitchen duty to put myself through college, and afterward began my professional career in the food and facilities management business.

My experience has taken me through all levels within the business and both sides of six acquisitions. I’ve had a wonderful and exciting career and had the opportunity to work with, learnfrom, and mentor many individuals who now have very successful careers. There are three areas of advice that I would offer to individuals as they set about growing their careers.

  • BE A LEADER. In everything that I’ve done, both personally and professionally, I’ve set a goal and gone after it. Don’t wait for someone else to direct you or tell you what to do—just do it. When you have a new idea or process, try it. Of course, equally important to leadership arepatience and persistence. There may be times when you will have an idea that is so far ahead of its time that others may not be ready to accept and act on it. With patience and persistence you will prevail.
  • TAKE RISKS! Taking a risk involves acting when you may not necessarily have all of the facts on possible outcomes. But if you wait to act until you have all the information, it may be too late. It is equally important that when you do take a risk you hold yourself accountable for the outcome, whatever it may be. Mistakes are an inherent part of risk taking, but the learning that comes from those mistakes is invaluable. Learn from your mistakes and move on, being careful not to make the same mistake twice.
  • MAKE A CONNECTION with the people around you in everything you do. From the lowest level employee to the most senior executive, know that you have value to offer that person. Be real and open with the people you work with, and the rewards will pay off tenfold