With a career spanning 25 years and companies known the world over, including McDonald’s, Tyson, McCormick & Company and Kellogg’s, Wendy Davidson has built a unique vantage point for herself.
That holistic view of the foodservice industry has served her well as the 2016 chair of the Women’s Foodservice Forum, the organization that works to educate and elevate women leaders and build gender-balanced leadership teams.
Davidson says that when balance at the table is achieved not only do people and businesses perform, but foodservice also becomes an industry of choice for top talent. Davidson spoke with Nation’s Restaurant News ahead of the WFF Annual Leadership Development Conference, March 13-16. Read excerpts from the interview below.
What is your vision for WFF and for its members today?
This year, I really want to make sure that we’re providing the same kinds of opportunities for people that really make WFF unique. Connecting people with other people who have experiences they can learn from, connecting companies with other companies where they can learn from and continue to build inside, and connecting companies with our industry as a great place to be and a great place to work.
You look at my background, moving from being a crewmember at McDonald’s to where I am today, my whole experience has been in the food industry. It is a tremendous place to work, and we believe WFF is uniquely positioned to help create a pipeline of ready talent to continue to keep our industry ahead.
What advice would you give to others as it relates to tapping into these networks?
I think there’s a misnomer when people start in their career that you need to have this mental career map laid out. … Careers do more zigs and zags and steps backward and forward as people develop.
My advice to folks is to be a little easy on themselves, to really truly understand the things that they enjoy. … Your passions will lead you to where you will be at your best, and then look around you for people who have the experiences that you think you want to gain. Reach out to them, connect, ask questions about how they got to where they’re at, and lessons learned along the way … both the successes and the failures. Be willing to look at your career as more of a marathon and not a sprint.
How have you seen inclusive and balanced teams drive business success?
You want to have a team of people who are looking at the business from all aspects and [you want] your leadership teams representing what your consumers look like, providing a point of view that is outside of just the data.
I’ve sat on teams that truly did represent the marketplace, and the depth of idea generation is rich. … You want to have people at the table that can help make sure that all aspects of the marketplace are considered and thought about, both from the lens of their personal experiences and from the lens of the business.