What has been your proudest career accomplishment within the last year?

Being in a healthcare and senior-living setting during COVID was the last thing I expected in my career. It was the most challenging circumstance I’ve ever faced, and I’m sure it will forever be that. I am proud that I was able to come out of it healthy and stronger than ever. 

How has the COVID pandemic changed your approach to foodservice?

The pandemic has instilled in all of us a new sense of empathy. Those of us on the frontlines saw and experienced the most extreme sense of fear, loss and, even some days, panic. COVID retaught us how to be humans again in the most challenging of circumstances and how to better support each other. During moments of isolation (which were frequent in our world), human connection is so important… even through masks and PPE.

From a more personal perspective, I’ve learned how to put mental health first, especially during a life changing event such as COVID. This not only goes for myself, but also for those I manage and work with. You never know what someone is going through or how they will process an experience like this.

What's the one thing you wish you could change about the industry?

How age is perceived. There have been numerous times throughout my career I have been doubted or questioned differently because of my age. Age is just a number, right? That shouldn’t reflect upon my value or experience.

How do you think the industry will change in the next five years, and how will impact your goals?

At this rate, who knows what will happen in the next five years! The pandemic changed our charted course, and no one saw it coming. I think it proved that we need to always be adaptable and be ready for the unexpected. It has caused my goals to become more short term, as we don’t ever know what the future holds for us. I don’t think this is a bad thing; it helps me to focus on the smaller stepping stones that connect to a large picture that is still coming into focus.