SSP America, Guiding the Next Generation of Food Travel Experts

Careers, Community, Leadership, People

SSP America’s Director of Strategic Partnerships Stacey Rush served as a judge in the DECA Maryland State Competition. DECA, formerly the Distributive Education Clubs of America, prepares high school and college students to be the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management. The not-for-profit career and technical student organization has more than 224,000 members across all 50 U.S. states and many countries preparing students to enter the workforce. 

Thanks to Stacey’s work with DECA, when these students ask themselves ‘where can I find work opportunities in entry level careers near me,’ they’ll know where to look first! While reviewing the submissions in the Restaurant and Food Service Management and Quick Service Restaurant Management categories, she met many PASSIONate students interested in learning more about restaurant jobs, SSP America, and possibly joining our team one day! 

Speaking of the experience, Stacey said, “it was so exciting to hear these students discuss the specific case studies around food and beverage and listen to their ideas—I can’t wait to see what the next generation of food travel experts brings to SSP America.”

Stacey’s dedication to guiding the next generation of food travel experts reflects a wider commitment made by SSP America. Not only do we work to promote from within, but many of our airports have mentorship programs. 

For example, SSP America’s leadership team at the Tampa International Airport (TPA) embraces team members who strive to move forward. There are countless employees at TPA who are not working in the restaurant jobs they were originally hired to do due to the great growth opportunity. SSP America at TPA is developing their hourly associates into the next generation of supervisors, managers, and other leadership. 

Through a mentorship program, hourly employees interested in moving up to restaurant manager careers are partnered with a current member of management. They work together, and the mentee learns new roles and what restaurant manager careers are all about. These employees often become SSP America’s most dedicated managers.

Take Shelby Steele who originally worked for another organization within TPA. She moved over to SSP America, first as a Cashier, and worked her way up to Assistant Restaurant General Manager. She stated, “It allowed me to better support my family. We were able to move to a better place…I was able to help my mom when she needed help, medically” and “it really helped impact my family.”

Or Nayra Ballesteros who started as a Line Cook and cross-trained, learning to cook every dish at each of SSP America’s TPA locations. Today she’s an Assistant Manager. There is another Cook, Gabriel Diego, who also learned all the dishes and, as of this writing, he’s a Shift Supervisor on his way to becoming Assistant Manager.

Through DECA, mentorship programs, and other initiatives, SSP America is proud to be guiding the next generation of food travel experts!

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