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Shattered Glass and Personal Journeys

Shattered Glass and Personal Journeys

CONNECTING A DOUBLE HELIX. past SFM president Debi Benedetti moderating the Women's Council panel, including (l. to r.) Patricia Harris, chief diversity officer of McDonald's Corp.; Helene J. Kennan, executive chef, The Getty Center/Bon Appetit Management Co.; Sheri Miksa, former CEO, Rubio's Restaurants, Inc., Barbara Timm-Brock, regional vice president, Aramark Campus Dining; and Alice Wheelwright, vice president of marketing and global business development, Ecolab, Inc.


Career-minded women do well to establish goals early, learn to employ the power of self-directed choice and prepare themselves to accept the responsibility those often difficult choices will bring in food-service executive careers.

Summed up, that was the message delivered to an engaged audience of SFM members on May 22 by a panel of leading women foodservice executives following the organization's annual breakfast at the National Restaurant Show.

Titled "Shattered Glass: A Discussion of Journeys, Insights and Possibilities," the panel explored the career development challenges they'd faced and the lessons they'd learned. Their recollections ranged from colorful descriptions of career beginnings in the lowest of entry level positions to the painful personal choices all had made in seeking to balance personal lives and professional careers.

The group also offered advice on navigating sometimes-treacherous career passages; maintaining family relationships in the face of conflicting career demands; and making the most of mentored relationships.

"Sometimes the mentor who chooses you may not be someone you yourself would choose," observed Aramark's Barbara Timm-Brock.

"It is a sign they see something in you and are willing to help you develop it—take advantage of it. But be aware that mentoring styles vary. Some just look to give you a little push when you need it. Others can be brutally honest. Look to develop a sense of trust— it is when mentoring is based on trust that it can help you get ahead."

"When you make difficult choices, you will find that you have to struggle to manage what are often some very imperfect arrangements. I began my career while going to school and working full time. Those were important choices and the right ones for the longer term for my family, but they meant that my first child was truly a 'latchkey kid.'
Patricia Harris
"The work-life balance is like a double helix—you have to work very hard sometimes to get the strands to connect in the right spots, and you will always face difficult choices. One technique I have learned is to never use the phrase 'I have to [do this task, or take that trip or miss a certain family event] as a mental excuse or apology. Instead, force yourself to make that decision a choice. Say to yourself, 'I choose to do this or miss that.' By making yourself state it in that way, you will find that you evaluate your decisions much more honestly."
Barbara Timm-Brock

"Know the pros and cons of mentoring within your company vs. mentoring outside your company. There's a value in each: the insider knows your company in depth, but in some situations, can only give you the 'company line.' An outsider can sometimes offer more honest evaluations, but won't understand your company's politics and situations on a first-hand basis.

"Also, know what 'having it all' means to you! What two or three things are really important to you? If you know this, you can have it all. But you can't if 'all' is everything....
Ellen Wheelwright

"Remember that you have to work hard to get the most from a mentor. Their time is valuable, so plan carefully how and what you intend to ask them. Don't expect to simply sit there and hear all that they know"
Sheri Miksa
"Never be afraid to say 'yes' to the opportunities that are presented to you. And when you choose to say yes, choose powerfully and with commitment. Choices will often mean that you give up some things, and it's important to be conscious of what you are giving up. If you 'powerfully choose,' you will not live with any regrets."
Helene Kennan
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