Our Stories
Text Size
Rising Through the Ranks
  • More than 400 of Darden's 1,500 general managers (nearly 30% of our total) rose from the hourly ranks and now run businesses that register between $3 million and $10 million a year in sales.
  • More than 45% of the graduates of our Manager in Training programs started as hourly employees.
Darden understands that nurturing individual employees ultimately benefits the entire company. We know that today’s team members are tomorrow’s leaders, so we do all that we can to support and encourage their personal growth within the company. Enabling employees to develop a strong sense of personal pride and accomplishment is critical to their success, and supports our company’s growth.

A recent employee survey showed that 82 percent of Darden workers were proud to work for the company, and 84 percent felt Darden is a great place to have a job. Our culture puts a tremendous value on helping employees achieve their own potential and encourages everyone to pursue their dreams. Evidence of our success in nurturing employees can be found in the hundreds of examples of people who have risen through the ranks to various levels of management. Here are just a few of the personal success stories that exemplify the advancement opportunities at Darden:

Souni Felipa – In Pursuit of a Career Dream
Souni started as a server at The Capital Grille in Miami, but soon took advantage of the company’s career advancement opportunities. After impressing a supervisor with his serving skills, knowledge, and passion, he was promoted to an in-restaurant training position and then to Lead Server Trainer, traveling the country helping train servers for newly opened locations of The Capital Grille. Today, Souni is a member of the management team at the Chrysler Center location in New York City.

Kay Francis – Encouraged to Achieve Success
After working at Darden as a temporary employee, Kay quickly discovered a passion for the company and took a full-time position as Purchasing Coordinator. Her supervisors immediately recognized her potential, along with her results-driven, team-oriented attitude, which has led to a series of promotions. Today, she is Director of Food Service Distribution for Darden Restaurants, responsible for more than 32 million cases of food shipped annually, totaling more than $1 billion in spending.

Mandy Thomson – Discovering Hidden Talents
Mandy started her career at Darden as a server in one of Olive Garden’s Oklahoma City restaurants at the age of 19. She rapidly climbed the company’s ranks, serving as a Certified Trainer, Sales Manager, Service Manager, Culinary Manager, and now as General Manager in the Olive Garden in Casper, Wy. Despite being painfully shy early in her career, her bosses saw the potential in her and encouraged her personal and professional growth. Today, her shyness is a thing of the past and she confidently oversees a staff of hundreds. Read More...