When I joined Darden 10 years ago, I expected to stay for less than a year and move on. But a couple of things happened: I was offered a promotion after only three months, and I joined the Darden Asian Network (DAN).
DAN, which provides learning opportunities for professional and personal development and growth to Asian-American employees, changed everything for me. I’m Guyanese (my great-grandparents immigrated to the South American country from India), and like many Asians, I’m introverted.
One of my first challenges was to give a presentation on the history of India to 100 people including some of Darden’s senior vice presidents. It was scary at first, but public speaking brought me out of my shell. It provided me with an opportunity to interact with company leaders and people outside my own department, greatly enhancing my career. My relationship with DAN was huge, allowing me to showcase abilities I couldn’t then demonstrate in my job, and more promotions followed.
A panel discussion featuring Darden Chief Information Officer Chris Chang and Yard House Executive Chef Carlito Jocson really made on impression on me. It was inspiring to see two leaders of Asian heritage so confident in their powerful roles.
DAN, the mentors it provided me and my own talented managers helped me break out, develop and grow. I started as an Accounts Payable processor, but through DAN I met leaders in the Supply Chain, where I work now. As a purchasing manager, I serve as a liaison between Seasons 52 and Bahama Breeze chefs and leaders and the purchasing function. If, for example, Seasons 52 wants to unveil a new menu item, I facilitate the conversations and help the brand get the products they need to be successful.
Not only have I become comfortable with public speaking, I’m continuing my education. I earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and am now working on my MBA. I’m a co-chair at DAN, and I pay it forward, helping others engage in new ways so they can be successful.