If you asked the Maggie of five or even 10 years ago whether she saw Corporate Recruiter on her career path, she’d likely offer an emphatic “No!” and wonder why you asked. Ask her a similar question today, and you’d hear about a clear career plan contingent on that role.
Maggie Derby, a member of the Unidine team for over 5 years, has taken the less-than-conventional path to get to where she is today, but not an uncommon one in the food service industry. Maggie pursued a college degree in Hospitality Management as a way to combine a passion for helping people with a love of travel. With several electives open in her college schedule, she decided to explore food and dining management.
She soon found herself working as a Catering Manager for one of the “Big Three” contract food service companies, and then went to work for Marriott where she honed her passion for customer service. “Working in operations with Marriott I developed a customer-centric view,” shared Maggie. “No matter what is happening behind the scenes, at home or at work, the key to success is to put your best foot forward and make the interaction as easy as possible for the customer.”
This mentality stayed with her as she went to work at The Woodlands banquet facility on Long Island, New York. While she loved the experience, she struggled to find the work/life balance that was so important to her. This is when an opportunity opened up for her at Unidine.
Maggie’s Career at Unidine
“I was tired of working every weekend and holiday and missing important occasions with my friends and family. A friend who worked at Unidine sensed my frustrations. She explained the Unidine philosophy — that they actually cut fruits and vegetables and made meals from scratch! I liked that the food wasn’t taken out of bags and reheated,” explained Maggie.
She found a job with Unidine working on front of house operations, helping customers and writing menus. “From the beginning I was getting experience in a number of areas outside my immediate role. It was great that I wasn’t stuck in one particular position and was able to increase responsibilities that would help me to grow in the company.” These experiences would soon prove critical in the next step of her career.
After four years with Unidine, a restructure meant that her role was no longer needed. Uncertain about what would happen next, Victoria Vega, Unidine’s Vice President of Operations, stepped in to help. “I had only been at Unidine for a few months, but it was clear Maggie had been a critical member of the team and she had valuable experience. We’d have to think outside the box to keep her,” Victoria said of Maggie.
Victoria looked at Maggie’s background and asked about her career goals. Knowing that Maggie had excellent skills managing the customer experience and hiring chefs for her team, Victoria suggested Maggie consider a position as a Recruiter for Unidine. “Victoria felt I had all the relevant skills, even though I wasn’t sure I did. She is very intuitive and doesn’t let good people fall to the wayside. That’s what she did for me,” Maggie explained.
A year and a half later, Maggie has been enjoying her new role as a Recruiter and is already looking forward to her career path at Unidine. Working with her supervisor, she is being trained to take that next step, possibly leading the recruitment team one day. “I wanted to spend the first two years in this role learning as much as I could, taking inspiration from those around me. I may need to go back to school to learn more about the human resources discipline, then hopefully move up the ladder. I didn’t think I’d be where I am today, but thanks to help from those around me, I have a lot to look forward to at Unidine.”