This is the perfect time of year, when food is front and center in our minds, to honor a woman who has been in the food services industry for several decades. Yet, it’s not about her relationship with food that we’ll discuss; it’s about her relationship with women.
Victoria Vega is the National Director of Business Development, Corporate Dining for CulinArt Managed Dining Services. Her career has always been in management and many years ago, when she was fresh from college and a leader of men twice her age, she learned an important lesson “stay less emotional and more forthright”.
Her male colleagues would say to her “Honey, I’ve seen them come and go” and she knew they were waiting for her to break under the stress of this very male dominated industry.
An observer of people, she watched other women in business set up their own mine fields without realizing it. And she was super vigilant about the double bind at the time where assertive women were called aggressive (or much worse) and to be thoughtful and wait, to speak up was seen as weak.
So, Victoria rolled up her sleeves and went to the President of the Restaurant Association, where she worked at the time and suggested she start a program to help women develop more self-assurance. The stars were aligned; this man had grown up in a household of women and was super supportive. So, off went GUTSY Victoria.
The Circle of Influence she started eventually became “Gender Influences in Management”, a highly popular course that led Victoria into the speakers world, which she often does to this day.
Yes, she is still managing males and I asked what changes she has observed. Here is some good news, she believes that even in a still male dominated industry there is more awareness, more capacity to dialogue, and more support for women who are moving up the ladder of success.
Her advice to women in business today is foundational:
Always have your own personal board of directors
Create a network of six to ten people who will give you feedback and be your keys to success
That’s what she does and her air of self-confidence and desire to keep growing and support women as well as collaborate, regardless of gender, makes her a role model for these times.