Passing on the Gift of Mentorship
Business Analyst at Fishbowl, Inc.
Michael White, recipient of the 2010 CHART/NRAEF scholarship, wasn’t planning on making a huge change in his career path when he attended CHART’s New Orleans Summer Conference. But when he applied for and was awarded the scholarship his Junior year at Buffalo State College, that’s exactly what happened.
As a non-traditional student who went back to school in his 30s after realizing biomedical engineering wasn’t for him, Michael had been working on the industry’s operational side as a manager at TGI Fridays for a few years. He was happy with it. But when he saw the agenda for the conference and decided to actively take part in the sessions and that year’s service – rebuilding a house destroyed by Hurricane Katrina – he was set on a course that would change his career path forever.
How did receiving this scholarship impact your education and career path?
“The Monday Night Gala event was probably the defining moment of my career or career shift. At dinner, I was seated next to Paul Hineman, the Executive Director of the National Restaurant Association Training and Solutions division. We had a great conversation and he offered that if I needed anything, to reach out. During my Senior year at Buffalo, I was thinking about applying to a master’s program at Cornell’s Hotel School and reached out to Paul for advice. Not only did he give me advice, but he also offered a recommendation and challenged me to do something different with my skill set. That’s when I started really looking at switching from the operational side of the industry to the analytical side. Shortly after that while attending Cornell, Paul became involved with Cornell’s Research Institute, and once again he reached out to me. He offered me an internship during break and then full-time employment at the NRA after I graduated with my Master’s. To this day, Paul continues to be a mentor, business partner, and more importantly friend.”
“Being awarded the CHART/NRAEF scholarship definitely was a pivotal turning point in my life. It opened my eyes to what else was out there in the industry beyond the traditional career path.”
Where did this career shift take you?
“Today, I am a Business Analyst at Fishbowl, Inc., the leading marketing, data, and analytics solution for the restaurant industry. Here, I’m able to combine my restaurant operations knowledge and experience with data and statistical models that help me contribute to revenue optimization and traffic performance for my clients. I assist restaurant execs in achieving their revenue and profit goals with strategic menu management and econometric pricing analysis, and I also help them make smarter decisions about their menu and pricing by connecting data to the overall value equation. This is all done remotely, so it’s allowed me to keep my family here in Buffalo, instead of moving all over the country.”
As your career advances, what are some of your goals and what are you doing to accomplish those?
“One of my career goals is to help and mentor individuals since I have been so lucky to have people that have helped me along the way. It’s one of the reasons I that in addition to my role as a Business Analyst, I’m also an Adjunct Lecturer at Buffalo State College where I teach two classes each semester. I want to make a difference through students and how they enter the workforce.”
“I want to help and mentor individuals since I have been so lucky to have people that have helped me along the way.”
What are some tips you can give others that are in your profession?
“Be a good person to work with. Work hard, give praise, respectfully ask questions, and challenge the status quo. I also encourage people to not be afraid to raise their hand and ask for help when they need it. I have been blessed with great leaders: Glenn Bucello, my 1st GM at TGI Fridays when I was a young manager; Paul at NRA; and now my current leadership at Fishbowl: Mike Lukianoff, Jayne Strickland and Doug Poppen. I’ve also been blessed knowing many great members and associates of CHART, who are all true ‘Go-Givers.’ CHART is a great way to explore new career paths and meet people that will help you along the way.”
How else are you giving back to your community?
I am the President of the parent school association at St. John Vianney School where all three of my kids attend, and I help coach their sports teams.
To find out more information about CHART’s Awards and Scholarships, or to nominate that deserving someone, visit www.chart.org.