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Women's Foodservice Forum Executive Leadership Program

May 27, 2014

By: Deborah Franta, Regional Vice President, Olive Garden

Women's Foodservice Forum Executive Leadership Program

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I am joined by ten other graduates in my class coming from various foodservice companies and roles. I feel so honored that Darden selected me for this program and is investing in my growth and development with the company. The program spans 24 months and involves different sessions and classes that I attended on the Kellogg campus with supplemental readings and case studies done in between.

We got to learn from actual Kellogg business professors, who are world class. I got a more in-depth look at all aspects of business from marketing to operations to finance to managing people. It was a lot of work but incredibly rewarding. Besides just the content of the courses I took, the program itself was a great networking opportunity with my colleagues who participated. Even though we all come from various disciplines, we had our industry in common, so we could learn to see things through each other’s perspectives, which I have continued to do. I now have a more holistic view of business management and can better balance different business priorities that arise.

This program was a perfect combination of business administration courses and the foodservice industry. I’ve been in the restaurant industry for 38 years, since I graduated college. I first started in a finance role and then transitioned to operations. I first joined Darden as a Manager at the very first Bahama Breeze 17 years ago. I fell in love with the energy and the company. I spent 15 years with Bahama Breeze, eventually becoming a Director of Operations. I had the opportunity to continue to grow as a Regional Vice President at Olive Garden, and I’m excited to be able to continue growing and learning through new opportunities, such as the Women’s Foodservice Forum Executive Leadership Program. I would have never done a program like this on my own, and I’m grateful for the support and encouragement from Darden. Thanks to their support, I was able to balance this educational opportunity with my work commitments and my family priorities.

I’m excited to take everything I’ve learned and continue to make meaningful contributions at Darden and Olive Garden. The Women’s Foodservice Forum exists to advance women leaders in our industry, and it’s great to see Darden sharing in this commitment.

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