Success Talk: Ashley Beudeker
Assistant General Manager for JoJo
Jean-Georges Management Group
Alexis Rai interviews Ashley Beudeker about her career in restaurant management. She's worked with some of the biggest names in hospitality and is setting standards for women to follow her lead.
Thank you for taking the time to interview with me. I am super excited to discuss everything that has been going on for you over the past two years. You have received at least three promotions so I am excited to discuss all the winning that you have been doing.
Yes, it's been crazy. I feel like the last two years of work have been intense, in a good way, so I am working to stay on top of myself and hustle.
You are an Assistant General Manager in the hospitality industry. Your career path has been working in restaurant management. Over the past few years, I know you have been with a few restaurants so update us on where you are now and let us know more about what your day to day life is like.
I am the Assistant General Manager for JoJo which is a part of the Jean-Georges Management Group. I have been with them for five months. My day to day is crazy. No day is the same which is what I love about this crazy industry. I wake up and I walk my dog. That's always the first thing. After I walk my dog, I try to eat something. That doesn't always happen but the effort is there. If I can get a yoga class in, it's an awesome day. When I get to my restaurant, I love to have a cup of coffee. Then, I will check my staff for the day to see who is coming in, check to see if we have any special events, and check for anything else that I would need to prepare for service. That takes about two to three hours, including administrative work and payroll. Then, we open at 5:30 pm.
That's when the real show starts.
That's when the real show starts. We open at 5:30 pm and we are going until 10:30 pm. Maybe there is a little thirty-minute low around 8:30 pm but other than that, it's just "go, go, go" and try to make people happy.
All you can do is try.
Exactly. We do not always succeed. Things happen sometimes, but we always try.
My day to day is also different all the time so I understand your appreciation.
You deal with a lot of diverse types of people in terms of your staff and your guests. What are your secrets to maintaining your peace in this type of environment?
Peace; that's an amazing thing. Yoga helps me out. I am not someone that crumbles under pressure so I like to think about things before I say them or do them. Having a moment to think about what the next step is rather than always being reactive helps me out.
What type of yoga do you do?
I do hot yoga so it is intense. It's 60 minutes, 110 degrees (F), 27 poses.
When did you first discover that you were a team leader?
When I was a little girl, I was always "bossy". I hate to use that word because it always has a negative connotation but I was always telling people what to do. I can remember being on the playground like "No, we are going to play double-dutch, we are not going to play that". Why? Because I felt like I had better ideas. From those young moments, I kind of knew that I need to be in a leadership position in everything that I did.
What's the greatest piece of advice that you've ever received from another woman?
I have read the book "Lean In" by Sheryl Sandberg probably three times at this point. She is the COO of Facebook and formerly a high executive at Yahoo!. One of her chapters is called "Sit at the Table" and it basically says that even if you're shy or you aren't sure of what is going on, be present. I try to do that on a day to day basis. I am in a male-dominated industry and I will sit at the table, literally and figuratively. I will ask questions if I see a meeting going on that I feel like I should be a part of. I will bring a pen and paper, I will sit down, and I will ask what we are talking about. Just sit at the table, the best piece of advice I have gotten so far.
What are three things that you do every day that are non-negotiable to make sure you are your best self every day?
I have to eat. I will always make time to eat, it's my fuel. I will not negotiate my sleep. There are some days where I may stay up a bit longer because of business needs but I will never pull an all-nighter. Again, it's my fuel. I try not to ever work more than five days in a row.
My motto is "Your body is your vehicle through this journey. You only get one and if you do not take care of it, you will have nothing to do because you will be dead. If you want to continue to do things, you should take care of the body that gets you to the things to do."
What's been your greatest lesson learned in your career so far?
Each day will end.
Thank you. I love that. That is so important.
What's been your most memorable moment working in the hospitality industry?
Any moment that my staff is appreciative of what I am trying to do with them. It really means a lot to me when I leave a place and they write me letters. I love handwritten letters. The feeling of getting through to my staff members and making a difference in their lives means way more to me than any of the perks that this industry can bring.
That's beautiful. That tells a lot about you and what type of leader you are. Because you are a passionate leader, I can understand how enriching that is to know and be reminded by them sharing their personal takeaways from everything that you have instilled in them.
It's hard. It's hard to motivate people in hospitality because 99.9 percent of the time, this is not their career. For me, it is my career and it does matter that guests leave happy and we are making the most revenue in the business.
As a young girl, what was your dream career?
I wanted to be a ballerina. That was my first idea of feminism and what a girl should be. I was in dance classes. I didn't discover that I wanted to work in restaurants until I was 19 years old. I worked at a Diner and I hated it at the beginning because I would get in at 3 pm and leave at 1 am. That was not normal for a 19-year-old. All my friends were in retail and they had 7-hour shifts. I started to miss everything-birthdays and events-but I realized this was something that I was good at. I realized it was an actual business and that I could turn it into something for myself.
Where do you see your career going next?
I see my career going in a traveling route. I would love to be a Director of Training or Director of VIP Clientele and Services. It's what my strong suit is so I would love to continue to grow with my company and travel and train. Jean-Georges has 21 restaurants worldwide so I would love to get on a plane to Shanghai one day and train their new servers on how to greet a table or get on a plane to London and teach their Maitre'd how to be welcoming and run a door.
That is a very clear and amazing goal.
What is your end goal for your career?
My end goal is to be happy. I'd like to inspire other managers, especially women. I want to continue to make restaurants a place where people can escape and have fun and feel good about where they are spending their money.
What advice would you give women and girls looking to grow a career in the hospitality industry?
She better be ready to work and she better be ready to put in the time. If she is ready for that and understands that type of commitment, I would tell her to ask questions and never take "no" for an answer. Always negotiate what you want. I have never accepted the first salary offer in my career so far because I know that if I had a penis, it might be $5,000 or $7,000 more. Know your worth. It is important to know your worth.
I have trained my mind to accept "no" as "not right now". Perhaps the terms in which I am proposed it aren't the terms that it will be accepted upon.
I also believe that the Universe has its own timing for everything.
What's your current favorite song?
Wanted by Hunter Hayes. I heard it on a random documentary that I watched the other day about a young girl, her life, and how she met her husband. It's a sweet love song and I love the words so that's been on repeat as my "going to sleep" song.
I love that! I love love songs.
What's your life's theme song?
One Foot by Walk the Moon. It automatically puts me in an amazing mood so right now, that is my life's theme song.
I love that it's a "right now" song.
What's your favorite color?
My favorite color is purple.
This was an awesome interview. Thank you!
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