Culinary Graduate Benefits from Business Skills in Impressive Career

Culinary Graduate Benefits from Business Skills in Impressive Career

Dane Macan, MBA | Senior Manager, Learning and Development, Sysco Corporation

Like many at ECPI University, I was a non-traditional student in the sense that I did not attend college until long after my high school years. It was then that I attended culinary school. After many years working long hours as a chef, getting married, and having a son, I decided to hang up my apron and seek other opportunities in the world of food. I decided to try my hand at sales with Sysco Foodservice, the country’s largest foodservice distributor. Having the experience as a chef proved beneficial in the short term, but I knew I wanted to grow within the company. Many others in foodservice sales have culinary “grit” and some college experience, so I made the hard decision to go back to school (after a 10 year hiatus) to complete my undergrad degree. After some research, I decided to attend ECPI University’s Culinary Institute of Virginia (CIV).

“With the education obtained through the programs at ECPI University, the relationships and connections made, and a new set of skills and colleagues, the world is truly my oyster. I will never forget my time at ECPI, and will never be able to… Click To Tweet

By the time I finished my undergraduate degree, I had been promoted to the Learning & Development Manager at Sysco Hampton Roads and was responsible for training a sales staff of 75 people. Long discussions ensued with Howard Gevertz (a key mentor and instructor from CIV) about how undergrad degrees were becoming more common in the foodservice industry and how my experience gave me only a small competitive advantage.  He suggested that I continue my education and earn an MBA.

After a few months of consideration, I had dismissed the idea because my new position required travel on a consistent basis. After more research however, I soon learned that ECPI University would continue to be a great fit, because it offered a 100 percent online MBA program.

Throughout my program, I was fortunate enough to build relationships with my cohort along with many of the instructors. Dr. Charles Franquet, whom I had for many classes, became very critical in the program for me. I felt that we could speak on any topic in business, whether it be employee engagement, leadership competencies, or lean Six-Sigma principles, and he would take as much time as needed to bounce ideas off of and provide suggestions not only to help in class but in my real world work life as well. Having the flexibility to work through these educational opportunities “on the run,” allowed me to continue to focus on my family and my career, while strengthening my competitive advantage over those in my career path.

Since completing my MBA, I have been promoted again to Senior Manager of Learning and Development. Click To Tweet

Since completing my MBA, I have been promoted again to Senior Manager of Learning and Development. I now conduct learning experiences across the eastern half of the United States, encompassing more than 15,000 sales associates, managers, and executive leaders. I am also a key influencer and subject matter expert in product knowledge and sales experience content development. Even in my current role, there are many opportunities to grow within this company. It is too early to determine the next step, whether I move within the Learning and Development Community or Executive Leadership, but either way, the direction is up!

With the education obtained through the programs at ECPI University, the relationships and connections made, and a new set of skills and colleagues, the world is truly my oyster. I will never forget my time at ECPI, and will never be able to express enough gratitude to the instructors, but I know one thing: deciding to attend ECPI was the best decision I ever made.