Weblog 3: Career Stories

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The Debut of JWU Connects

JWU Connects masthead

12/15/2017 | New programming offers professional  webinars and a host of virtual and live networking events.

JOHNSON & WALES UNIVERSITY is all about connections — with fellow alumni, students, faculty members and industry leaders. The importance of networking and professional growth is instilled in our students from their earliest days on campus, and alumni have told JWU that those endeavors remain top priorities.

The university recently convened an Ad Hoc Professional Program Development Committee to explore new methods and models through which JWU could meet the career needs of its graduates. Based on their recommendations, Alumni Relations is proud to present JWU Connects. This new line of programming features exciting ways to grow your  network, enhance your skill set, form valuable relationships and learn from the best. 


Wednesdays are now Webinar Wednesdays. Each week, a new live webinar will be presented by a notable expert on a key topic. The  sessions are divided into four tracks that follow one’s career stages:

FIRST WEDNESDAY — CareerSearch: This track is relevant to anyone considering a new job, whether you’ve just graduated, are advancing within your profession or considering a major change.

SECOND WEDNESDAY — CareerDiscussions: No matter where you work, everyone encounters certain situations that can be tough to handle. Learn how to address diversity, work/life balance, office politics, self- promotion and more.

THIRD WEDNESDAY — CareerSkills: “Soft skills” such as creative  thinking, oral communication, data interpretation and leadership transcend all professions. Just ask a hiring manager: These competencies are universal requirements.

FOURTH WEDNESDAY — CareerEncores: Graduates who have led long careers can find out, “What’s next?”

Stream the presentations in real time or browse the webinar library at your convenience.


Gain insights from your JWU peers through online events that you “attend” from the convenience of your computer, tablet or phone. Each event will have a different focus: industries, entrepreneurial interests, geographic locations, career stages. You can chat with one or two  fellow alumni for up to 10 minutes each, then talk to someone new; it’s never been easier to “meet” people. A transcript of each conversation is automatically saved for your reference, and you can add notes to maximize the new relationships you build.

During the fall, our successful events revolved around College of Business graduates, the hospitality industry, culinary professionals  and emerging leaders. In 2018, events will feature alumni experts and location-based chats.


Get even more out of JWU Alumni events when the crowd and speaker are fellow alumni who are industry leaders.

In November, graduates working in hospitality were thrilled to hear from David Salcfas ’88, New York Marriott Marquis hotel manager, about industry labor challenges and what it’s like running the largest hotel in one of the country’s largest cities, and a “lifetime” spent working for the largest hotel company in the world. The alumni in attendance, many of whom had attended HX: The Hotel Experience at the Jacob Javitz Center, then networked while overlooking Times Square from the hotel’s Broadway Lounge.

In Boston, a panel of alumni experts shared words of wisdom and stories of how they got to where they are with young graduates who are part of the Emerging Leaders network. Hosted by Carlos Bueno ’00, manager of  Taj Boston hotel, and moderated by Marquis Cooper ’14, an audit associate with Gray, Gray & Gray LLP, the panel consisted of Ryan Barry ’08, chief revenue officer for Zappistore; Gregg Brackman ’95, owner of G Bar and Kitchen; Seeratt Dutt ’13, product developer for Kettle Cuisine; and James Fisher ’96, vice president of global services at State Street Bank and Trust Corp.

Watch for event invites for 2018 programs that will take place in Charlotte, Las Vegas, Providence and Chicago (just to name a few).

With these tools and resources at your fingertips, it’s easier than ever to build powerful connections, strengthen your network, boost your abilities and expand opportunities for success!


Meet the JWU Connects National Committee!

JWU Connects National Committee

Committee graphic

12/15/2017 | The JWU Connects National Committee leadership consists of the following graduates: 

HAZEM GAMAL ’90, JWU Connects national chair 

Based in New York City, Gamal is a leader in business operations with  a focus on sales and marketing enablement. Initially a hotelier, Gamal became an international senior management consultant before spending 15-plus years at OppenheimerFunds. 

BRYAN OGLESBY ’95, JWU Connects national vice chair 

Oglesby is vice president of people for PR Management Corp, a franchise of Panera Bread, and oversees all of the company’s human resources functions. Over the last 20-plus years, he has held senior roles in human resources and operations in multiple industries. Oglesby holds a bachelor’s degree in Management from Johnson & Wales University and has senior designations as SPHR and SHRM-SCP. He is a member of the Human Resources Leadership Forum and The Society for Human Resource Management, and has been a volunteer soccer and basketball coach for his local town.

JUSTINE SACKS ’09, Culinary & Hospitality Network chair  

Sacks is the director of dining services at Columbia University in  New York. She previously held various roles within the hotel industry, including food and beverage, front office and housekeeping within  the Marriott International and Omni Hotels & Resorts brands.

MARQUIS COOPER ’14, Emerging Leaders Network co-chair 

A member of the client service team at Canton, Massachusetts, accounting firm Gray, Gray & Gray LLC, Cooper focuses on audit work, with particular expertise in Federal Acquisition Regulation compliance and overhead rate audits for architectural and engineering firms. He also oversees the firm’s Young Leaders Network, serves on the Academic & Career Development Committee for the Massachusetts Society of CPAs, and is an active member in the Neponset Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Northeastern University Center for Family Business.

JOY LIU ’12, Emerging Leaders Network co-chair 

Although she began her career crafting commercials at advertising agencies, Liu is now a freelance content consultant and Certified Financial Trainer® at The Financial Gym. While her employers and clients are based in New York, she works from her home office in  North Carolina. 


More sub-networks will be established soon!  If you’d like to get involved or provide feedback,  please email alumni@jwu.edu.

“Simplicity is key”: Career advice from DBGB DC’s Ed Scarpone '09

Scarpone Lecturing

11/16/2016 | Everybody starts from scratch. Walking in to his first day of culinary labs as a freshman at JWU’s Providence Campus, Edward Scarpone '09 was unaware of the life he was embarking on.

Unsure of himself in the strictly-run Johnson & Wales kitchens, Scarpone was tempted to change majors instead of looking like a fool in front of his seemingly well-practiced classmates.

It wasn’t until the third day he realized they were all in the same boat. One classmate was sent to the hospital to receive stitches down her leg from an accidental knife drop; another was setting the sauté station aflame; and someone across the lab passed out from the heat of the kitchen. Every day, everyone starts from scratch. Every day we walk onto the red tile floor of the kitchen, we have an opportunity to learn something new and possibly something unexpected.

"It’s easier to train someone who wants to learn than someone who thinks they know everything.”

Scarpone Making Coq Au Vin

As JWU Charlotte’s latest Distinguished Visiting Chef (DVC), Scarpone’s career advice to JWU students is seasoned by his half-dozen years working in Daniel Boulud’s kitchens, including DB Bistro in New York City. (Not yet 30 years old, he currently helms Boulud’s DBGB Kitchen + Bar in Washington, DC.)

To Scarpone, the only way to be successful is by fostering a strong base — knowing the basics like the back of your hand.

Inspired by the classic French dish, coq au vin, he harbors a respect for dishes in their original and classically intended form. “The thing you need to focus on is technique.”

Braising, fabricating, roasting, knife skills; these are all things that cooks and aspiring chefs should practice whenever they can and as often as they can. With this philosophy, he once again stressed how important it is to be open to learning and “really wanting to succeed.”

“Simplicity is key — but knowing all you can makes you better.” The will to continue after a 16-hour shift, the strength and dedication it takes to get through every day, the desire to absorb knowledge and become better not only in the kitchen, but also in life; these are the qualities of a Chef.

Scarpone doesn’t expect all of these qualities in a first-year intern, but he does expect one to be on time, ready to work, willing to learn, and showing care in what they do.

Today, chefs like Massimo Bottura, Daniel Boulud '12 Hon. and Scarpone are more willing to hire someone who has no kitchen experience, so long as he or she exhibits a strong will to learn. “It’s easier to train someone who wants to learn than someone who thinks they know everything.”

Passionate people are what make successful restaurants. When a restaurant brigade is full of passionate people, “everyone wants to help everyone” and “that was the camaraderie the way Daniel [Boulud] wanted it.”

"Simplicity is key — but knowing all you can makes you better.”

By the same token, seeing the reaction of the guest isn’t as important as the reaction of one of his line cooks after a successful night running their first special. “Watching the cooks, that’s what makes it worth it.”

Scarpone has come a long way from his first intimidating day at Johnson & Wales to being hand-picked by Boulud to run his newly-opened DBGB DC. Being in the kitchen is what it’s all about and one day, he hopes to start and own his own restaurant from the ground up.

Follow Ed Scarpone on Twitter. You can also follow Boulud Careers.

Scarpone Networking


How to stand out in the food service job market

Career Fair Collage

10/25/2015 | More than 1,500 employers visit JWU campuses each year, including career fairs and events geared to specific majors.

At the most recent Food Service & Hospitality Career Fair, the floor of the Harborside Athletic Complex was standing room only as thousands of students practiced their elevator speeches, swapped business cards and connected with their dream companies.

Career fairs are one of the single best ways to network, research the industry marketplace and solidify connections with employers — and JWU’s are no exception.

Top Employers: Why We Hire JWU Grads
We asked top recruiters from EatalyDinex Group (Daniel Boulud '12 Hon.), Shake Shack and Momofuku to tell us why JWU graduates stand apart in the job market — and why they, as employers, make it a priority to return to JWU year after year.

“Holistic View of the Industry”
Cleo Clarke '96, Eataly executive director of HR: “Students that we have found from JWU have a pretty holistic view of the industry. It’s pretty interesting to get these students when they come out, they have knowledge and skills that some of the competing schools don’t really give students.”

"We really don’t care about pedigree. [We look for] an attitude, a hungriness." Leslie Ferrier '90, Momofuku

Cynthia Billeaud, Dinex Group HR director: “We have many representatives of JWU alumni in our company. Most of them have been moving up the ranks and … are well-represented as executive chefs in our restaurants. I would definitely take the example of Ed Scarpone '09 of DBGB DC, which is a property we opened about a year ago.”

(Not yet 30, Scarpone has worked with Daniel Boulud’s group for more than 6 years. Read all about his recent visit to JWU Charlotte as a Distinguished Visiting Chef.)

Amy Green, Shake Shack Northeast HR director: “We’ve had a great experience with JWU alumni. I’m currently employing 3 in the Northeast region that I met at the Career Fair here, and they’ve been fantastic. I’ve been really excited to have them on my management team, and I look forward to having many more!”

Leslie Ferrier '90, Momofuku HR vice president: “I absolutely look first to JWU students. I know the education here, I love the school. I had a fantastic time at JWU when I was here.

“I know that when you come out of JWU you know how to do something. You’re not just educated from an academic standpoint, but you have hands-on training, you have a comfort level — not just within the kitchen, but within any area or division in which you’ve chosen to study, you have some hands-on experience.

“JWU really creates this workforce that knows how to work, is passionate about it, and really develops those passions within individuals to go into the real world and make a contribution relatively quickly.”

How to Create a Good First Impression
Recruiters place a premium on finding candidates that are a good cultural fit for their company. Here they tell us about the qualities that can catapult a candidate from a job seeker to a new hire.

"We’ve had great experiences with JWU alumni. I currently employ 3 in the Northeast." Amy Green, Shake Shack

Ferrier, Momofuku: “We really don’t care about pedigree. We don’t care what you look like on paper, what great schools you went to, or the education or anything like that behind you. At the recruitment fair today, you’re probably going to find the same thing that they’re looking for: an attitude, a hungriness, a wanting to learn, a wanting to make a contribution – and really leaving the ego, and any sense of entitlement — at the door. That’s huge for all of us.”

Clarke, Eataly: “One of the most important thing for us is students or graduates who are hands-on and practical. They have to be able to jump in, and understand — from A-Z — how to run an operation.”

Green, Shake Shack: “We look for people who we consider to be 51-percenters. And those are candidates who possess certain personality traits that we find to be the most conducive to, and fit in best with, our culture. Some of those traits are: warm and caring personality, integrity, a strong work ethic, and empathy.”

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