Kris Klinger, director of dining services for USC Hospitality, says: Travis is currently the youngest of five senior managers who oversee all 41 USC Hospitality locations. Travis is responsible for more than 175 employees daily and is in charge of the remodel at the health sciences campus, which includes overseeing the construction of a full-service Starbucks, Panda Express and Poquito Mas. Travis also is in charge of The Lab Gastropub. Travis is an amazing person to work with, and I appreciate his mix of passion, intelligence and humility that makes him one in a million.
Watching my staff grow into different roles and becoming great chefs and managers. For example, I had a guy who was an assistant manager at a single unit. I was able to get him to one of my venues that has five locations. My team actually groomed him, and he took over being a multi-unit manager about a month ago. We taught him how to work with different personalities.
Being young in this position and having managers older than me thinking that we can’t achieve the goals I had set for the team. I almost leave it up to them. I say, “This is what I’m thinking. Why don’t you come up with a game plan and tell me how you want to do it.” I’ve gotten a lot more respect.
Opening four venues in three months. I had three months to hire, train and open the concepts. The thing was, these concepts required seven weeks of training. Plus, hiring at a university is not easy. You have to do background checks, HR has to interview them and all the different managers have to interview them. I would never want to do it again, but I had a great team and we did it.
We were trying to set up a coffee kiosk during a remodel and we took the coffee cart apart and thought we could make it through the venue. We measured all the doors but one and it got stuck, so after all that hard work we realized the door we needed to use was right in front of us the whole time. We took it back out after 30 minutes of the cart being stuck and rebuilt the cart and got it through the door after two hours of sweating.
When I was in a different position at USC, I sent an email to the director asking for more responsibility, and I sure got it. I bit off a little more than I could chew. I still have the email I sent and I look at it sometimes and laugh asking, “what was I thinking?”