Climbing The Ladder From Waiter To Executive, One Rung At A Time

Paul Bolles-Beaven knows a thing or two about climbing the corporate ladder. He started out as a waiter more than 27 years ago at Danny Meyer’s Union Square Café. He’s still with the company—as a senior partner.

It was his first job out of college, as a waiter at what would become the flagship restaurant of Danny Meyer’s sprawling hospitality empire. He steadily worked his way up to bartender, bar manager, service director, general manager and now Union Square Hospitality Group’s "Chief People Officer," responsible for recruiting and training staff at nine restaurants.

While that kind of perseverance may be rare in business, it doesn’t mean Bolles-Beaven never hesitated on his upward climb.

"I guarantee you that no one who’s been successful has never had a moment of doubt, or fear or discouragement. We all have that," he explains. "The question is, what do you do with it?"

Paul Bolles-Beaven

For Bolles-Beaven, the answer was knowing when to take care of a job on his own, but also being honest enough to ask for help when he needed it. It was also understanding the interplay between himself, the rest of the staff, and, most importantly, the customer.

"Business is a team sport," he says. "And if you’re spending all the time trying to make sure you win personally, on your own, and without the input, involvement and collaboration with others, you’re not going to succeed."

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  • Matthew Johnson

    Great points told in the context of Paul Bolles_Beaven's story.  Good example of how both functional level employees (waiters, cooks, etc.) and executive level leaders are valuable to a company's success.