Rising Through the Ranks
- More than 500 of Darden's 1,900 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.
- 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.
Lisa Hoggs – Taking the Reins on Career Advancement
Lisa started as a server at the LongHorn Steakhouse in College Park, Ga., and has
worked her way up to Managing Partner of the Akers Mill restaurant in Atlanta. She
credits the tremendous training and education programs with her success, along with
the encouragement of her managers and the many career opportunities Darden offers.
Going above and beyond for 150 grateful Mary Kay conference attendees who showed
up at her restaurant all at once didn’t hurt her reputation for taking the bull
by the horns either. Lisa is especially appreciative of Darden’s rich history of
Dave Pickens – Career Climb to the Top
Dave began his career as a line cook at Red Lobster at the age of 17 and later joined
Olive Garden where he rose through the ranks to become President. In 2011, he returned
to his roots at Darden to become President of Red Lobster, where he leads a company
with 705 restaurants, more than 58,000 employees and $2.6 billion in annual sales.
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...