Huse Culinary’s VP of Culture and Learning Leanna Chroman came to the realization that in order to keep pace with new restaurant training processes she needed to go on a bit of a journey. After rising through the ranks of the Indianapolis-based Huse, which owns the legendary St. Elmo Steak House, Harry & Izzy’s, HC Tavern + Kitchen and 1933 Lounge, Chroman was in placed in charge of training. Right away, she felt the methods were a bit outdated and that you couldn’t expect people to read a 200-page manual.
“That’s just not how people learn today. I realized I didn’t have the answers,“ she said. "So, one day I just made this decision: I’m going to go back to school.”
Chroman enrolled at Purdue Global, where she began working on her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial/organizational psychology. She is using what she has learned both in the restaurant industry and in her Purdue Global classes to train the trainers, especially in anticipating guests’ needs. Watch her journey in the video above and read below to learn more.
Why is the phrase “I need to know what I don’t know” so important to you and to explain your journey?
Oftentimes when we are older and more mature in age, we think we know much or that all we have learned so far in our lives is enough to sustain us. What stifles innovation is doing things the way we always have done them. Staying open to learning and being receptive to change, is key to growth. I realized that the way we had been doing training in our company was outdated.
Learning has changed and I realized I did not know how or understand the way we learn today. In order to catapult our training, I needed to grasp new learning styles and understand exactly how our brains consume knowledge today. This is why I choose to go back to school, specifically in the field of Industrial/Organizational Psychology, aka “the psychology of the workplace and its employees.”
How do you manage to carve out the time for your works, studies and yourself?
This is a careful balance that I do not always get right. Some weeks are harder than others when there are longer or tough assignments due. It has been a discipline. I carve out time to complete my studies because it is important to me. Working out in the morning is my time to myself and it gives me energy for the day. I only dedicate three to four days a week to workout, out because I do not want to burn out.
I focus on work for most of the day, then walk my dog which is also relaxing, unwinding, and letting go of the “work” brain, I fix dinner, then dedicate around two hours an evening for school during the week and four or more hours on the weekend days. I make sure I get out in nature when it’s warm, and attend social outings when possible. I have to schedule these things in my life, or I will not excel.
In what practical ways, has pursuing education helped in your day-to-day role?
The work I am in doing at Purdue Global has had a positive effect on my day-to-day roles. The courses are applicable to my job responsibilities, and I use what I learn immediately. For example, my overall professionalism with writing, speaking, and leadership has been impacted positively. Understanding our employee’s needs and having a pulse on employee morale is critical to our culture. Through my studies, I am able to decipher employee feedback and present options to support employee growth and development for the company.
What advice would you give to someone who sees you as a role model and wants to pursue a career in hospitality?
Do what you love! Finding your passion and being able to connect it to a job is vital for your happiness. You should reflect and evaluate yourself to know what it is that brings you joy, then find a way to incorporate that into your career. The hospitality field is special and unique because it gives opportunities to all. Those who have education and those who do not. It is a field that allows you to give back, allows you to serve others, and make their experience amazing. The hospitality industry is fast-paced, always evolving, and can be a community for its employees.