What does the career path and a day-in-the-life look like for a Project Team Manager at Toast?
We interviewed Morgan Bradford to find out!
Where did you grow up? What did your parents do for work? What was your very first job (before any internships)?
While we moved around a bit when I was very young, I grew up north of Boston. My mom was an extremely involved stay-at-home mom (who was always the president of the PTA), and my dad worked in the tech space. My first paying job (outside of babysitting) was scooping ice cream at the local stand. They were ahead of their time and tried charging per ounce- it wasn’t long after they implemented that they went out of business!
I noticed that you studied Applied Science - Food Studies at NYU and after you graduated, you pursued a career as a Pastry Chef. What prompted you to pursue this career path initially?
I grew up baking with my mom all the time. We had the staples for any basic baking adventure at any given time. I found it very alarming when I would go to a friend’s house, and we couldn’t make a batch of chocolate chip cookies because they didn’t have any flour! As I grew older, that evolved into me dreaming of opening my own bakery (serving chocolate chip cookies of course!). Studying food as an undergrad and attending culinary school was each a step towards that goal.
Following your time at Flour (a Boston favorite), how did you make the career switch into tech by becoming a Project Coordinator at Toast?
When I first left the kitchen, I thought I wanted a complete 180 away from my past to make a fundamental change. I took a couple of months off to regroup and came to terms with the fact I shouldn’t turn my back on my strong restaurant background simply because I was burnt out. I had heard about Toast as I was leaving Flour (they were starting the implementation process) so it was a natural place to start the search. After an informational phone call to hear about a few open positions, the project coordinator role seemed to be the perfect way to leverage my background while stepping my foot into the corporate world.
Since joining Toast, you have already been promoted a couple of times. How have you been able to achieve such a rapid ascent in your career path?
I came in the door with a fair amount of management experience, but not very much corporate expertise, so I understood that I needed to start at the bottom. I made it very clear, when I started that I was interested in growth and threw my hat in the ring whenever there was an opportunity for stepping up.
Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as Project Team Manager?
I currently manage a team of nine, comprising of Project Coordinator and Project Managers. We are responsible for taking our customers to live on the platform, and we manage everything that goes into successful implementation. My role is to ensure that my team can be as efficient as possible, stay on track to meet our goals and that our customers are as obsessed with Toast as we are.
Any tips for someone considering a making a major career change to a new industry?
It’s very humbling to make a career change and feel like you are starting over. Coming out of college, I thought I was ahead of the game and knew exactly what I wanted out of life (professionally, at least!). I fell behind in a sense after leaving the kitchen, so making a change into an extremely high growth company made sense for me to fast track my development.
Day in the Life
Coffee, tea, or nothing?
Must always have coffee.
What time do you get into the office?
Around 9 AM.
Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?
The day always stars with clearing out my inbox and unread Slack messages that piled up from the night before. Given that our customer base is restaurants, a lot happens after our typical work day so mornings can sometimes equal catch up. My days are packed with meetings, and whether they are one on ones with my team members, discussions about how to best institute process changes and standardize our communication strategies or interviewing amazing candidates to support our ever-growing company, I generally don’t have very much time just sitting at my desk. The days absolutely fly by.
What time do you head out of the office?
Usually between 6 and 7.
Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?
Absolutely! Especially if I left the office earlier to try and squeeze in some exercise.
Any productivity hacks?
Do all things all the time. No, but seriously, with this job, if you cannot multitask, you are DOA. In order to stay productive, it is essential that I own and manage my own calendar - I have very little free time each day, so it’s imperative for me to buckle down and focus on the task I’ve assigned myself. One thing I’m consistently working on is being more present in meetings - Slack is such a distraction and an implementation can fall apart at any moment. You can be “unavailable” for 30 minutes and miss everything.
What are the three apps that you can’t live without?
Spotify, Instagram, and Zillow (love searching for real estate!)
Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?
My Dad! He and I are very similar, which tends to result in us butting heads (we are both very opinionated and very stubborn) but at the end of the day, he had an incredible career primarily in the tech space and is a great sounding board both when I was in the kitchen (though he had a hard time understanding some of the characteristics of that life!) and is especially helpful now.