Recently we had the incredible opportunity to chat with Mary Orlando, COO of Coyo Taco. She is an exceptional human with years of experience in the hospitality space. She is recognized for building brands and has a passion for emphasizing the value of her team and developing her team to create success! Here is an excerpt from our conversation with Mary!
What is your “why?”
People in general are my “why.” When I was younger, I always played team sports. I would be team captain or a leader of some sort. From this, I learned to ask myself every day “what did I teach and what did I learn?” I feel like so many people at this level, and as they progress in their career, do not continue to learn about the business and people. They don’t learn how to appeal to “Gen Xers” and “Gen Zers.” There is a lot to be taught via experience but there is also always a lot to learn. Some people fail to learn how to motivate different people. If I’m not learning and I’m not teaching, I feel that I’m not growing.
You have a history of taking brands and concepts to notoriety. What is one piece of advice you can give a new concept as it begins to develop?
Build your bench really deep with talent way before you need them. I believe in having succession planning and a development path. Small companies don’t realize until they’re at the point where they critically need someone to be a power player or the next in line. Plan ahead.
Often with smaller companies, there is someone who is ready to be promoted but they don’t have a plan for someone to take over the position when the current person advances. This can limit and hinder your team’s growth and sustainability.
You have to be diligent as a leadership team. I believe very strongly in one on one conversions. You have to devote the time to sitting down with your key people every week, or however it consistently works for you, and have an honest dialogue. You have a lot to talk about and follow up on, especially when you’re developing young leaders.
You have to create a culture where nobody gets left behind. If you are being promoted, who are you mentoring to take your spot? They should be ready to take over your job when you’re ready to take over the next position. You want to train this person to be, hopefully, better than you so you can have the space to rise to your next challenge.
This is how you create a culture of mentorship.
You have to switch the narrative from “when am I getting promoted?” to “when and how are we as a team going to get stronger and better?”
How big of a factor was company culture and social alignment when making your decision to join the Coyo Team?
It was HUGE to me.
I wouldn’t consider a position with any company if the culture wasn’t a fit. I’m a very good judge of character and I know Sven and Alan are genuine. They’re a family and you can feel that. They’ve done a good job of defining a culture and then hiring people that represent that culture.
In regards to social alignment, I think it takes all kinds of people to run a business. I’m gay. I have a wife and 2 sons. There are so many ways to motivate and elevate teams, but you have to be a leader and a culture that empowers all walks of life. The company has to be about it and Coyo Taco really is.
The percentage of women in leadership positions is up from 23% to 25%. What do you think needs to change?
I feel that there are a lot of women in leadership positions who need to own their performance. There are a lot of professionals that don’t focus on goal setting. They don’t have a consistent meeting with supervisors and small things like that make a huge impact. A lot of women in the organization, need to make that change. I started setting goals for myself in my career about 10 years ago.
You have to own it. I find that women don’t always ask and own their success. Where is your platform where you can show that you achieved your goals? Where do you share your results? Do you take the time to convey that you are not recognized? Give your supervisor the opportunity to know what you want to talk about going into the meeting. Prepare them for what you need to cover. I want to be prepared to give you my all.
What are some of your highlights from your experience with working with Protis Global?
It was an overall great experience! Chris was very easy to get to know and we immediately aligned on so many things. The more I worked with Mike [Bitar] and Chris [Johnston], the more I felt like they genuinely wanted me to make the right decisions FOR ME. I didn’t feel pressured to make a choice. They weren’t single minded. I never felt like I was just a commission check and I’ve felt that multiple times with people who are single minded and say “this is the only offer I have for you.”
I felt the relationship we were building was a long term partnership and they were looking for my success. Everyone was very professional. Chris took the time to meet me face to face which, in my experience, is not typical at all. I feel like I’ve known Mike and Chris all of my life.
What is your motto, mantra, or “words to live by”?
The first would have to be “NOURISH & INSPIRE”
But then again I’m also very competitive so I’d have to say another one is “2nd place is the 1st to lose.” If we get 2nd place in anything, I always want to refer back and take a look at why. I don’t take lightly to not being the top of the game.
We have so much more incredible content to share with you about Mary! We are excited to show you even more of why we chose to spotlight the brilliant, Mary Orlando!
Do you know an exceptional person who we should feature in an interview? Send us your suggestions to [email protected]!