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An Inside Look: Working for Chick-fil-A Corporate

MLT Alum Adrissha Wimberly knows how to go after what she wants. Her knowledge, along with hard work, diligence and network landed her a coveted position as a Financial Return Consultant at MLT’s partner company, Chick-fil-A. She serves as a financial and operational thought partner to over 130 Chick-fil-A stores in the Atlantic region. We interviewed her to learn more about how she landed this position, her typical schedule and what she loves most about the Chick-fil-A corporate culture.

Tell us what it’s like to be a Financial Return Consultant at Chick-fil-A?

Chick-fil-A has over 2200 restaurants with multiple franchise Owner/Operators within those restaurants. As a Financial Return Consultant, I help Owner/Operators grow their incomes for the long-term health of their business. I bring insights and recommendations from data to Owner/Operators and their teams. The owners are focused on selling chicken everyday, but there are still financial return questions they will have. How are my sales growing? How is the productivity of my team members factoring in to my top line? How do I manage expenses such that I can impact my bottom line? I help them think through those questions.

So over the span of a week, what does your schedule look like?

I call it the “3-to-1” schedule. I travel three weeks out of the month, and I’m home in Atlanta for one week. I have internal staff meetings that are blocked off for most of my Monday and Friday, then, Tuesday through Thursday, I’m on the road in a store or multiple stores, visiting with an Owner/Operator. There are about 130 stores that I support between North Carolina, South Carolina, Southern Virginia and Western Tennessee. It’s awesome because that’s 130 different opportunities to engage with someone new and get to know their leadership style!

How did you first hear about Chick-fil-A and what made you want to join the company?

I heard about the company because Dan Cathy (CEO of Chick-fil-A) came to speak to the Christian Business Association while I was attending business school at Chicago Booth. One of my classmates from Booth, who also happens to be a close friend of mine, ended up joining Chick-fil-A right after school and has been with them ever since. She was a Financial Consultant and I was able to learn about her role and her experiences. Recently, she was promoted to a different area of the business and they were looking to fill her space. So, I tossed my name in the hat and was lucky enough to be able to join!

At this stage in my life, after having had such various career opportunities that have all kind of stacked on top of another, I was intentional about finding a particular company like Chick-fil-A. It was also time for me to take a step back from the very aggressive high-paced, high-charged, high cost of living area that I had been in and see what life would be like if I moved to a place where I could plan for the next 10 to 20 years.

What is your favorite thing about Chick-fil-A’s corporate culture?

I have been in unforgiving work environments. In many finance industry environments, there is little room for error, because it’s the culture. And on the federal government side, you are literally impacting lives in the things that you do.

At Chick-fil-A, people definitely work hard and give it their all but there is a level of grace that surrounds this place. So, if I send an email and there’s a typo in it, I’m not afraid that I’m going to lose my job and people will think I’m incompetent. I’ve been in other places where if you sum a number wrong in real time you just cost someone 30 million dollars. So just being in that spirit of grace is one part of the culture that I really appreciate. I think that it inspires a different type of work ethic when you are able to just breathe in your role.

The second thing that I love about Chick-fil-A’s culture is this constant state of improvement and innovation. The founder, Truett Cathy, started with the chicken sandwich. From this chicken sandwich, the company has continued to innovate in order to provide the best service and the best food to our Customers. There’s always this moment of “okay, that’s how we did it, that’s how we are comfortable doing it, but it doesn’t mean it’s where we have to stay.” There’s an opportunity to improve, revisit and to do again.

What about the perks? Are free chicken sandwiches actually a thing?

On an everyday basis, no, I don’t receive free chicken. I can’t walk into any Chick-fil-A restaurant, flash my badge, and they’ll just toss a chicken sandwich across that counter. However, there are two things that happen.

One is that a fully subsidized lunch is provided in our cafe on campus each day. Though chicken sandwiches are typically a part of the daily menu selection, it is not always a Chick-fil-A centered lunch. It could be many different types of cuisine.

Second, every season we offer different promotions that customers will experience in the store.  I will get free offer cards that I can share with customers who I meet in my travels. I don’t get to use those offer discount cards on myself, but there is a perk in being able to surprise and delight people who I meet along the way. There is nothing better than seeing someone who has had a hard day, who you’re sitting next to on the plane, and they ask you what you do, and you start to talk, and they’re like “Oh my goodness, I love Chick-fil-A!” Or even better, is when people say “I had this really tough experience when I went into store X Y Z.” And you’re like, “Oh, really? I am sad to hear you didn’t experience our guest standards. Next time you go back, dinner’s on me.”

Other cool perks include an onsite gym and a full wellness center. You can have a full body composition analysis or get a personal trainer. There is a nutritionist on site as well. Chick-fil-A provides perks and benefits so that its staff members feel cared for both professionally and personally.

What factors do you believe are important when looking for a company to work with?

I have found that there will be different priorities at different points in your career. But if there is one important factor I suggest, it is to look for consistent performance review processes that translate into salary growth. It’s also important to look for solid benefit packages. Being in a company where that is part of your experience will prepare you later in life for those tough conversations, and you will understand what a growth rate of salary could look like. I think that is something we overlook or just aren’t even necessarily taught to think about.

*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.