Twenty-two years ago, a skinny young man named David Lorenzo, ran around the kitchens of JWU’s Providence Campus looking for a “sheet pan stretcher” and a “soufflé pump.”
Needless to say, he never found them. Today that same man bills millions of dollars to companies that need advice on the long-term growth of their business.
Back in the 1980s, culinary instructors were fond of "breaking in" students by sending them to hunt for fictional kitchen items. Although I was one of the gullible young kids who fell for those ridiculous practical jokes, I will always be grateful for learning to “take the heat and think on my feet.”
Running a kitchen, a restaurant or a hotel poses many of the same problems and challenges faced in managing a multinational company. Lorenzo claims there are three specific areas where the hospitality industry serves as a great training ground for business leadership. A hospitality manager learns about strategic thinking, the importance of managing talented people and the need to deliver on promises. These three skills are critical to the success of any business. Lorenzo shares these ideas below:
Strategic Thinking: Plan before you act. It does not matter if you are doing a dinner for 100 people or the marketing campaign for a $100 million product launch — a solid plan is needed. Thinking through the opportunities, threats and mitigation tactics is essential. Every great chef, banquet manager or CEO always asks the same questions: “What if this happens, and what will we do?”
Talent Management: Good help is hard to find. Recruiting, engaging and developing top talent is a challenge in every industry and company, large or small. If you can lead people in a 120-degree kitchen on a muggy May afternoon, you can probably make your team feel good about the latest corporate cost-cutting initiative.
Flawless Execution: If you don’t deliver the goods to your clients in the corporate world you could get fired. In the kitchen, careless production can make people sick (or dissuade them from returning). Setting up effective systems and processes to handle the details is essential in either environment.