At College Chefs, not only are we striving to serve ridiculously cool food to college students across the nation, but we’re building a community. The core aspect of this community is the culture!
While defining “company culture” may seem a bit business school, we’ve found that it’s the number one way to ensure a positive approach both in work and in life.
There’s an old adage saying “made with love.” While it’s a nice sentiment to compliment your Grandma’s apple pie, we truly believe that the atmosphere impacts the quality of food and the entire dining experience.
We’ve been working promoting good vibes in the company since the beginning. Now, we’re pushing the pedal to the floor to bring College Chef’s values to their full potential. We’ve implemented a Culture Coordinator position who’s sole responsibility is driving this culture.
We sat down with Cody Sullivan, the man who fills this role, to dive into why it’s so important that we have an entire job title dedicated to culture.
Why are you so passionate about food?
Well, I’m passionate about people, but I certainly do love food. Food is awesome. It’s delicious, expressive, nutritious, life-giving. Food is one of the few things in the world that every single person can relate to. From growing, to harvesting, to preparing, to eating, the whole process fascinates me. And then the different ways it's prepared and shared across the world has an incredibly beautiful ongoing story. Like I said, Food is awesome.
What makes the culture at College Chefs different from other brands in the industry?
We want to flip the script on the traditional corporate leadership structure. The higher you climb up our company “positionally” the more responsibility you have to lead, empower, and serve those coming behind you. Your team doesn’t work for you, you work for your team.
Why did you think it was important to implement a Culture Coordinator position at College Chefs?
Implementing the Culture that we desire isn’t going to just happen by chance. The only way we can come even close to flipping this old traditional script is if we’re very intentional on a daily basis to do so. That's what my job is.
What does your role look like?
There’s really two main categories of who I’m working with. First is management including all VP’s, Regional Directors, Regional Executive Chefs, Travel Chefs, and Office Staff. I meet with these teams weekly as we progressively, learn, develop, and grow together as individuals and as a team through all sorts of tools and discussions.
Second is Kitchen Staff, which includes anyone working in a house (Chefs, Sous, Kitchen Assistants). My goal is to be an asset to every person who is actively trying to pursue a goal. Whether that goal is advancement within the company, starting their own business, reaching physical health goals, improving mental health etc. I want to build a relationship with that individual and empower them with thought processes and tools to reach those goals.
Have you noticed any changes in culture, communication or general mood since starting the position?
The majority of my work this early into the new role has been with Management. We work with some awesome people and it’s been great to see some of the immediate impact our meetings have been making. I’d say the biggest thing has been seeing relationships deepen beyond just the day to day job. We’re being vulnerable with each other and learning tons from each other, and it’s been awesome to see everyone gelling as a team, even while most of it is currently virtual.
What’s your big picture vision for the role?
I want every employee to say that this company really cared about them. I want them to have a really hard time deciding to move on from College Chefs! We’ve always had awesome food and service. We don’t cut corners in those areas and we’re continuing to improve year after year. This is another important tool in the company’s tool belt as we continue to build an organization that dominates the food services industry with happy employees.
What’s your big picture vision for yourself?
I plan on running some pretty large companies of my own down the road. What I’ve learned from my time on sports teams and well as my few years in the work world is, you can have all the best ideas, products or services in the world, but if you don’t have a great team, you have no shot at long term success. I’m incredibly grateful to be able to personally grow while helping others grow and achieve their goals at the same time. The only thing I know about my future companies is that they’ll be “people first” organizations.
We’re hoping that the hard work Cody and the rest of the team are doing will inspire you as well! Want to ride the wave of shifting culture and flipping corporate framework upside down with us? Follow the journey on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!