Career Path - Victoria Brady, Vice President of Caterer Partnerships at ezCater
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Where did you grow up? What did you parents do for work? What was your very first job (before any internships)?
I grew up in Belfast, Maine - or a small town close enough to there.
My dad drove a truck for the local lumber mill, which was always his dream, and my mom is a perpetual caretaker. She started out working as a teacher’s aid, then a nurse’s aid, and then became a foster parent. My parents have been fostering for 40+ years and have raised 100+ kids; they adopted a few along the way, myself included.
My very first jobs were babysitting my cousins, but my first “real” job was working in the cut-up shop at the local mill. I sorted and stacked wood for a whole summer -- my family placed bets on how long I’d last and I beat them all. I was in amazing shape headed in to field hockey season that fall! I worked at the local convenience store the following summer, which was my first intro to working in food/hospitality -- making pizzas, sandwiches, etc. It made an impression. I LOVED that job.
Where did you go to college? What did you study and what were some of your initial jobs out of school?
I went to the University of Maine in Orono and began studying English, but I never finished a degree.
I had a scholarship from MBNA America that included a summer job working in their outbound call activation and balance transfer center. I learned a lot about sales there -- people buy from people --generally ones they like or connect with.
After that, I started working in hospitality and never looked back. I worked for Margarita’s Restaurant Group at their Orono and Portland, ME locations. I then got the opportunity to help open their first location in Massachusetts, and off I went. I stayed in MA (this didn’t come as a surprise to my family) after that. After bartending at the Rattlesnake, I found my way to Grafton Group in Harvard Square. I started serving at Grafton Street, and after a few years, became Assistant General Manager at Temple Bar.
Once I realized I did not want to own or run my own restaurant, I started looking for a new challenge. A bit serendipitously, I ended up working at a gym. I had experience working with kids and took a position with the Sports Club for Kids Program at Boston Sports Club in Wellington. Before long, I was leading the program -- running swim lessons, sports classes, summer camp, and even men’s basketball leagues.
I became an Assistant General Manager at that location, and within the year was General Manager at the Davis Square location in Somerville.
It looks like your experience at Town Sports International provided you with a great foundation for your career initially. How did this experience help get you to where you are today?
Working at TSI was all about sales and operations. Beginning at Wellington was great because it was a new club and we essentially had to start everything from scratch. There were some playbooks, but we had the ability to get creative and really own the business, which was exciting.
I learned even more about sales and process at TSI I also learned a lot about multitasking. Running the gym meant overseeing sales, but also group exercise, playroom, personal training, and overall just the location and members themselves. In a startup, which was where I landed, it is so important to be able to juggle and take on more than one task. In the early days everyone does it all -- or as close to “all” as they can.
You joined ezCater in the earlier days of the company. Can you share how your position and the business has evolved since you joined in 2012?
When I started at ezCater, I got a packet of info and a headset in the mail and worked from home every day. During that first couple of weeks, my friends were all wondering if I had finally lost it and if I was even going to get paid. But I did get paid, and the chance was one of the best I ever took. We soon moved into an office and now even have one in Denver.
I started out by signing up restaurant partners on the supply side of our marketplace. My background in sales and hospitality was a natural fit for this. More than that, I loved the opportunity, the product, and the people, which is always a recipe for success.
Over the years, I have led pretty much everything to do with our partners at ezCater. I built the catering partner sales organization -- a group of people who added 40k+ new partners. I started the support team that receives requests from our partners about their accounts. I’ve also led the content team -- our team of menu and photo experts who create and update menu content for our partners.
I now lead the team that works with our most strategic accounts and am currently focused on ramping up our Partner Success team. (this will be a team focused on proactive outreach and support for our partners). It’s a bit of a sweet place for me to be; I have essentially built our caterer network, and am now in charge of making sure those partners are happy and continue to thrive with ezCater.
Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as Vice President of Caterer Partnerships at ezCater?
I run the day-to-day of our Strategic Accounts team, who works with large chains and restaurant groups to onboard their locations and make sure we are in alignment with helping them achieve their goals as an organization. Recently, we’ve begun aligning with their global teams to explore the potential there.
We now offer a full suite of solutions to help our partners grow their catering business -- beyond just joining our marketplace. ezOrdering helps them take orders on their own website; ezManage helps them facilitate all of their catering orders, wherever they come from, and ezDispatch helps connect them to reliable local delivery drivers. Offering these new solutions have not only opened up our lead base for potential partners, but has been a huge value-add within the industry. We do a great job of really listening to our partners and understanding the challenges and pain points. We’ve come up with some very ez -- pun totally intended -- solutions.
I work very closely with my sales teams, product, and marketing every day. Sales brings in the feedback, product builds a solution, and marketing makes sure that the message gets out there.
Day in the Life
Coffee, tea, or nothing?
Coffee -- lots of it! Working full time with twin three-year-old boys... there is never enough caffeine!
What time do you get into the office?
This depends on my childcare situation. Most days about 8:30, though I leave at 4:30 to get home and have dinner/spend time with the kids and return back to work after the littles are tucked away. If I work from home, I generally sign on a little later and work a bit later at night.
I am super fortunate and appreciative of the fact that ezCater really does support work/life balance and does not just say that they do. My work schedule has changed so many times over the years to work for me, and as long as the work is getting done it’s never been an issue.
Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?
- Review my calendar for the day - check in and say hello to my team(s)
- Catch up with each individual - 1 on 1’s 1x per week
- Team meeting 1x per week
- Update meetings with product/marketing
- Calls/meetings with partners (the best part of any day)
- Goal setting/tracking/review
What time do you head out of the office?
By 4:30 every day to get home for dinner! This was actually something our CEO Stefania asked me to try when I reported directly to her. Soon after I had my boys, she suggested I leave early and asked if it would be better to just finish up my day later at night. It was something I had never even considered and turned out to be an amazing solution. And she not only suggested it but then went and asked my whole team to help me get out the door on time and really give it a shot so that I could maintain better balance in my life.
Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?
Log back in. In fact, I am always logging in. And not because I have to but because I LOVE to. Even on maternity leave I’ll never forget helping coach some of the sales team through text messages and calls. Even 6 years later I am (and so many of us at ezCater are) just so passionate about what we do. It is very true -- if you love what you do it’s not work.
Any productivity hacks?
Ha! Okay -- those who know me have seen it -- the post-it note. When I have a lot to do and can’t seem to find focus or roles/responsibilities are shifting -- or if I just even find myself procrastinating -- I use a post-it note. You’ll find it stuck in the right lower corner of my keyboard and I will fill it out every morning. I love to cross things off a list and that forces me to clarify what I need to do and see it every day as a physical reminder.
The other is: let go. Hire really talented people and let them do their jobs. You come up with better solutions/results when you let others own their outcomes.
What are the 3 apps that you can’t live without?
- Slack -- I love staying connected.
- Instacart -- Great advice I’ve gotten is to outsource as much as you comfortably can. This allows me to spend more time with my family instead of doing things for my family.
- Aaptiv - Don’t get me started -- BEST fitness app there is. Seriously, they are doing it right!
What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?
The professional development and success of those who have worked for me. Regardless of where they are now -- at TSI, ezCater, or elsewhere -- I love to see my people flourish and realize/utilize their potential.
To be completely honest, as a foster kid from a small town in Maine I never, ever dreamed that I would one day be a VP for the only nation (now world) wide catering marketplace (and more). I’m learning to dream bigger.
Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?
Always my husband -- my best friend and teammate. Corny, I know, but so true. He’s one of the smartest guys I know and just has a way with words.
I’ve been super fortunate to have amazing female influences in my life, as well.
At TSI I eventually worked for Marcy Spaulding. She’s a bit of a legend in fitness and one of the best bosses I’ve ever had. She understands me and always challenges me to be better and to keep growing. She’ll always be a mentor and friend.
At ezCater, Stefania our CEO has taught me so much. I can’t imagine a day when when I would not consider her insight or opinion even if we are both long gone from ezCater.
My best friends, Emily and Rachel -- who are always my biggest cheerleaders and in completely different industries. They think very differently than I do and will always give it to me straight. It’s impossible to succeed in life without these type of friends, both professionally and personally.
So many of the women and men I work with now, both on and off my teams. Some now run their own teams, and some are in completely different departments. I am a sharer, and I value all viewpoints. I find it so important to seek out a differing perspective. I was kind of forced into that growing up, but it’s something I really value and appreciate having learned.