of boning fish and creating specials, his
new job was to oversee everything that
goes into the success of restaurants, from
the chefs and the general managers to
the culture, the food quality, marketing
and financial results.
“I didn’t even have a cell phone until I was
promoted to regional,” says Hinshaw. He could
see he was going to need some new skills.
Today, as a vice president, operating
partner and executive corporate chef in
his organization, Hinshaw is in charge
of some 1,900 associates (employees)
at 29 locations. Feedback tells him
he’s become a better listener. And
employee opinion surveys rate him
high, as approachable, professional and
knowledgeable in his area.
When his company offered the services of a
professional coach, Hinshaw jumped at the
chance. The coach was an expert in people
and management—different skills from those
of his culinary mentors. He met with her,
usually at a coffee shop, once a month for
about a year and a quarter. “You could talk
about anything—an hourly associate, how to
deal with the executive team, how to use all
the capabilities of the organization,” he says.
Individualized guidance isn’t just for
people with extensive culinary knowledge.
Career coaches say they’ve worked with
culinary clients of many different ages and
Flash back about 12 years. At that point,
Cochran-Lewis had just set aside a
decade as a journalist and freelance
writer, deciding to take the leap toward
her food passion. At 36 years old, she
started on the bottom rung, handling food
demonstrations and working with cooking
classes at Central Market in Austin. She
flagged a career coach and worked with
her three times a month for about six
months. The sessions, mostly by phone,
lasted a half hour each.
Coaches work to help clients achieve their
goals. That might entail helping a client to
consider alternatives and options, as well
as encouraging new ways of thinking about
Outside meeting times, his coach e-mailed
informative articles and suggested books
he should read. Among other things, she
encouraged new ways of thinking and dealing
with people. For example, Hinshaw says, if
restaurant cleanliness was the problem, he
might first be inclined to just say, “Pick up a
broom, and clean this up.” His coach showed
him ways to get his people involved in solving
their problems. She might say, “Why not ask
the chef/GM, ‘Why is this kitchen always
dirty?’” He worked on listening, and helping
people to buy into what was expected.
According to a 2009 ICF Global
Coaching Client Study conducted by
PricewaterhouseCoopers and Association
Resource Centre Inc., more than 80% of
coach clients who responded experienced
a positive impact in their goals, including
communication skills, work performance
and life balance. The study says that
clients who achieved a financial benefit
from coaching saw an average return on
investment of 3. 44 times what they spent.
Cochran-Lewis says her coach always
reminded her of her long-term goals. “She
would work with me on short-term solutions,
but she was always keeping an eye on
the prize.” The target: making a difference
for her company, getting increased
responsibility and earning a better salary.
She says the coach’s honest feedback,
plus lots of role-playing, helped her learn to
express herself in a professional way.
CLIMBING THE LADDER
Cathy Cochran-Lewis recently became a
partner at Crave Communications, a boutique
culinary PR firm in Austin, Texas. Before that,
she’d been handling Whole Foods Market’s
interaction with the media worldwide, as a
global public relations coordinator.
In the short term, Cochran-Lewis moved
up in her company. Within a year and a half
of the coaching experience, she’d doubled
her salary. And by the third year, she says,
she was making three times as much as
her original salary. She became manager
of the company’s cooking schools, then
moved into PR and marketing.