Carla Changwailing

Carla Changwailing

Director of Operations at Modest Bread

Success is sweet, and I have a tremendous amount of pride in the success and accomplishments of our teams.

The biggest lesson I have learned in my career this far is that as a woman, I have to be relentlessly and unapologetically tenacious, bold, and decidedly sure of myself, and that I can stand up for myself with both my words and actions.
Having been surrounded by men who receive commendation and praise for the slightest of accomplishments meant that I had to make a bigger splash with larger accomplishments. I’ve seen that saying ‘yes’ all the time, working hard, and being good at a position will not always result in recognition, but the owners and managers who did recognize my capabilities have truly helped me develop.
I currently find myself in a restaurant group that is extremely supportive of diversity in leadership: women, LBGTQ+, and POC. Our ownership and PR team take diversity extremely seriously and work tirelessly to promote and nurture it.
I am fortunate to find myself working in a city (Washington, DC) where this is not uncommon, but in the past, I have worked in cities where the upper echelon of restaurants had predominantly male management teams. Moving to DC with my family was a huge and scary decision, but has resulted in conquering the biggest learning curve and experiencing the most growth in my career thus far. I consider myself extremely lucky to be associated with such a talented and diverse team and am thankful for the opportunities that were given to me.
We are in the business of people – making connections, creating connections, providing sanctuary and experiences for both guests and employees. The greatest skills that I look for are sincerity, warmth, and the ability to make/create a connection in moments with an unfamiliar person, most of which cannot be taught.
When hiring for upscale and fine dining restaurants, I look for poise, elegance, fluidity of movement, grammar and manners.
For me, continuing education is the most fun and rewarding part of my job. I am surrounded by professionals who are constantly researching new techniques, sourcing new and exciting products (in the bar, on the wine racks, and in the kitchen). There is nothing more exciting than conducting and participating in menu classes and tastings. On a more managerial level, the most important parts of continuing education for me are learning more about human resources and accounting (both aspects have been outsourced in the majority of the groups that I’ve worked for).
An aspect of restaurant management that requires constant education and that has evolved extremely rapidly in the last 10 years is the increasing dependence on social media, the development of social media strategies, and the absolute need for a social media manager. When I first started out working in restaurants, social media didn’t even exist!
The past few years have been pretty rough on our industry, and I don’t think that it would have survived without a massive team effort. My career/team highlights have two related peaks: the first is demonstrating our ability to become unified, pivot, think creatively, strategize, and execute during the initial pandemic shutdown in order to keep businesses alive. The second is helping a business to evolve, improve, and continue to experience success, while raising standards and expectations from both the team as well as the guests during the second year of the pandemic.
One self-care thing I do on a regular basis is walk to my local F45 gym for 6:30am workouts at least 3 times a week. Other days I will do some weight workouts at home, but I really love to bang it out in a group atmosphere, no holds barred, red faced, sweat dripping, and gasping for air.
Self-Care is being able to focus completely on something that is not work related. I love my podcasts, and will listen to them driving to work, walking to the gym, and doing chores and errands. Podcasts are extremely meditative for me, and my favorites are: (Workout Related) “Results Not Typical”, “Fuel Your Strength”, (Pleasure) “Conversations From the Heart”, “Ear Hustle”, “Criminal”, “Morbid”, “My Favorite Murder”, and “Gruesome”, (Self-Improvement) “Be Uncluttered”, “Food Heaven”, and “The Happiness Lab”, (Work Related) “Work Life with Adam Grant”, “The Food Seen”, and “The Modern Bar Cart”.

Disclaimer: Individuals featured in the Inspirational Career Timelines section have been nominated by peers, colleagues and/or other members of the hospitality industry. It is to the best of our knowledge that each individual has demonstrated leadership and acted as a positive role model for others.

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