Donatos’ Linda Bernabie returns to career on the “edge”

Donatos’ Linda Bernabie returns to career on the “edge”

Her title, director of “Edge-U-cation” for Donatos Pizza, is not so unusual considering it’s the practice of the Columbus-based pizzeria chain to spread toppings over its pies from “edge to edge,” said Linda Bernabie. The family-owned chain, which owns 136 units and is franchisor of another 40, wants to be just as thorough in its employee training and development, she said. Bernabie returned to Donatos this summer after a four-year hiatus. She had left the company when the owners bought it back from McDonald’s Corp. [3] Bernabie, who had designed training programs for Donatos, then moved to Toledo, where she did some consulting and then was director of training for a local pizza chain. When the opportunity arose to return to Donatos and to Columbus and to a company she considered family, she didn’t hesitate. This time, her job is about more than training, it’s about education, Bernabie said.

What’s the difference between training and educating employees?

When you were in grade school learning to do math, you were not trained, you were educated in the process of solving problems. Edge-u-cation means more than training people to make pizzas and subs, but educating them in all aspects of production, management and career development.

Does this mean training is more than on-the-job instruction?

We used a blended approach to learning. We’ve developed self-study modules for store managers that really concentrate on administration and leadership skills that are Donatos-specific. There is a mentoring and coaching assistant through each module. We also use the Harvard Management Plus online program for additional leadership skills.

What about educating hourly staff?

There’s no substitute for hands-on learning, but we also want to make it Web-based learning as opposed to a paper-based or strictly apron-strings training. I’m convinced it’s the way to engage young folks. It’s what they are used to, what they go home to.

So you want to offer instruction that will keep them on the edge of their seats, so to speak?

I couldn’t have said it better. If we educate and develop good people, the product takes care of itself and profit takes care of itself.