Students in The School of Hospitality Business filled over 200 seats in McDonel Kiva on Thursday, January 17 to hear Roz Mallet, CEO and president of PhaseNext Hospitality and outgoing chairperson of the National Restaurant Association.

“Her story is riveting,” says Dr. Jeff Elsworth, associate professor in The School who arranged for Ms. Mallet’s visit.  “She certainly kept their attention.”

Ms. Mallet is a seasoned food industry leader, with extensive experience in enterprise strategy, turn arounds, transition planning, systems implementation, human capital development, and franchise operations.

In her current position, she is an entrepreneur.  Previously, she has served as president and interim CEO of Caribou Coffee; senior vice president of Human Resources for Applebee’s and TGI Friday’s; and COO of la Madeleine Bistro-Café.  She was also senior vice president of human resources for Carlson Companies, a global, multi-industry holding company.

With PhaseNext, a multi-concept franchise operator in non-traditional foodservice locations, the mission is to deliver fresh, high quality, quick casual restaurant brands that meet the traveling public’s ever-increasing demand for higher quality food, service, hospitality, and convenience.  Her company operates in airports, train stations, military bases, and internationally. She described these efforts to the students in Dr. Jeff Elsworth’s HB 358 – Hospitality Business Ownership, and to his HB 267 – Management of Food and Beverage Systems classes.

Roz discussed her unique history within the foodservice industry, with quick casual and casual, and quick service concepts; with publicly traded and privately held businesses; and currently with her entrepreneurial focus.  To the budding entrepreneurs in HB 358, she urged, “Find your starting line.  How important is starting your own company in defining your life’s story?  How do you work with. . . and whom do you work with. . . best?  And why?  Is it an entrepreneurial culture you seek?  Or do you really want to be the owner/founder?”  She challenged each student to answer these questions while still at MSU.

Roz outlined some effective ways to assess their “appetite for risk,” and used her own company as an example, discussing its evolution from the strategy to the growth, and to the operational phases.  Persistence and creativity are vital, she said, and it is important to believe that you can succeed.

To the students in HB 267, Roz talked about her philosophies for a successful career and life, urging them to stay true to their principles, to always be a student and a teacher, and to be passionate about serving others.  She gave them ten tips that make for good leaders, including “seek mentors and seek to mentor.”

The students were impressed – and they were very interested in her years of service to the National Restaurant Association, as well.  Since September 2001, she has served on the Board of the NRA Educational Foundation, and before becoming the NRA chair, she served as a member of its board and chair of the Finance Committee, Executive Committee chair, vice chair of Government Affairs and Public Policy Committee, and chair of the Multi-Cultural, Regulatory/Health Safety Committees.  She is deeply committed to the NRA’s promotion of high standards in the restaurant and foodservice industry, and to “giving back.”

“As a female student, I find it very encouraging to have leaders who are women come to campus to bring their stories and their advice,” says Alyssa Bellinger (BA ’15), director of philanthropy for the student-led Hospitality Association. “Roz is a superb example of how to not only break glass ceilings, but ignore their existence completely. I hope to be a ground-breaking role model like her someday.”

And just recently, Roz handed over her chairperson’s gavel to someone very dear to The School, Alumni Association Hall of Fame member Phil Hickey (BA ’77), who led such restaurant concepts as Capital Grille and LongHorn Steakhouse, has led numerous, highly-successful foodservice companies, and is now chairman of the NRA.

“We are fortunate that Roz was willing to share her wisdom with us,” says Dr. Ron Cichy, School director. “And we’re fortunate that this year’s NRA Chairman is a Spartan Champion.  Both leaders serve to inspire our students to aim high and give back.”

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