Laurie Casler, senior vice president of operations for Seasons 52, said women who want to become leaders have to put themselves out there with confidence. “The person you are most nervous about interacting with should be the first person you connect with,” she said. “Pick up the phone and call them, set up lunch or coffee; they will give you the best advice, I promise.”
Mentoring is important for women, she said, but it’s even more helpful to find a sponsor who will take action on their behalf and not just dole out advice. “A sponsor might fight to get you a good assignment or promotion.” She said several mentors have supported her career growth during her 14 years at Darden, and “those who were the toughest and most direct were the best.”
Laurie started her career as a sales manager at The Capital Grille restaurant in Providence, RI, and quickly moved into a training role with the brand. Later she took on training responsibilities for Seasons 52, Eddie V’s and Bahama Breeze in addition to The Capital Grille before joining the Seasons 52 team in an operations role three years ago because she wanted to keep learning and growing.
Time management is key to moving up the ladder while safeguarding your personal time. “It doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman, whether you have a family or not, you control your own destiny,” she said. “You have to plan your time — even your family time — and don’t let anything interfere with it. I make it a point to have lunch with my daughter Abby at school every few months. She thinks she is the coolest kid because she gets to sit up front with her mom and enjoy a homemade lunch.