top of page
SPEAKER SERIES LOGO- updated 6.11.19.png



July 23rd, 2019

Scroll Down

Highlight Video

"Bravo to you and your team for organizing such a great event. Really enjoyed the discussion, and hope to attend the next one."

Jeremy Mustakas | Director of Operations | ABC Restaurants

Full Program

Event Synopsis: Written By Kate Edwards 

Kate Edwards & Co. Logo

July 23, 2019


E.B. Cohen Educational Event: Hospitality Training & Development, Technology, Safety & Best Practices


PANELISTS:     Matt Leone,

                                Vice President, E.B. Cohen

                                Jon Robertson,

                                COO, Typsy

                                Kutina Ruhumbika,

                                VP Human Resources, Major Food Group

MODERATOR:     Kate Edwards,

                                Owner, Kate Edwards & Company


Derek Sherman, CIC, VP, of EB Cohen brought together the panelists and guests the morning of July 23rd, 2019 for an educational event focusing on hospitality training and development, technology, safety and best practices. The event was held in the private dining room of Oceana in New York City.


The panel introduced themselves to the audience then dove right into the first topic: how do you communicate to your team the impact of risk on your business? Matt Leone opened the conversation by sharing that you must share with your teams both what to do and what not to do and that a culture of safety is “caught not taught,” meaning that the culture must start from the top and works its way down to the team. Kutina Ruhumbika shared that when working for Barteca, with over 30 locations, a quarterly review of accident and incident reports was completed at each location. Barteca then looked for trends to create a report that would go to all operations in order to create risk management training on these common issues. This allowed for the operation to be proactive in regard to safety and address the areas of risk in all operations.


Talking about risk – and all its incarnations – with the teams at all of your locations is imperative. Leone shared that while you can’t eliminate accidents, you can address them globally in order to prevent more from occurring in the future. Quick fixes include having LMS (Learning Management System) training that can be a support to your managers when they are working after hours and conducting regular trainings to keep the team up to date and safety front of mind.


The group then dove into the Future of LMS with Jon Robertson taking the lead. He shared that so many software companies are offering LMS as a suite of services. The challenge is that while your LMS might integrate well with other platforms, it might not actually serve all your training needs. Typsy is “vendor agnostic,” which allows them to collaborate with any other platform, including other Learning Management Systems. This gives them ability to connect to other varied resources and create comprehensive training for the team. When more Learning Management Systems become open to working with others, operators will be presented with a greater amount of opportunities.


Ruhumbika expressed that from an operational standpoint, creating videos for a LMS is difficult. But when looking at the demographics of their team, it was identified that they are adept at creating quick, video content for their social accounts. Her company proceeded to ask the team to create similar training videos for the business. This became a source of pride for the team members while building engagement with that individual’s colleagues. Tapping into their skills and insights as videographers and trainers was essential to crafting usable, helpful training videos for the company as a whole. When asked about gamification, Ruhumbika explained that for time-sensitive training, having incentives for the team (per location) was a helpful way to get the team up to date on certain mandatory training topics.


Robertson supported Ruhumbika’s point of view, however he thought gamification differed a bit in that that overt “gaming” tactics were actually a distraction and could be found as a “band-aid” for bad training. He voiced that when surveyed, employees want useful information so they can improve their ability to do their job and found the game aspect an annoyance. To conclude, professionals actually want professional training.


When a question from the audience was posed on the topic of the team creating its own content, Ruhumbika confirmed that all training must be done on site and during “in office training hours.” Her LMS is protected by a Geofence to ensure training is completed on site and conducted during compensated hours. Additionally, with video content development, this verifies that the actual restaurant is the site of the video and actual techniques and systems are utilized.


On the topic of FOH vs BOH training, Leone took the lead and conveyed that in terms of safety, accidents happen in both the front and back of house, with both employees and guests, leading to both teams needing the same, comprehensive training. Ruhumbika added that one challenge in the BOH is a multitude of languages, making it important to serve these populations by offering training in multiple languages and potentially hiring an outside translator to do a voiceover for your LMS. Robertson shared that, from his perspective, it’s not so much about different approaches for FOH or BOH as it is about training hard or soft skills. The approach is going to be different making it necessary to know what method will be most successful for both types of skills training. Kate Edwards posed a question to the audience - how many of them offered training in multiple languages? - and a few hands went up. When she asked how many of them would like to offer it, most hands went up, demonstrating an understood need for this type of training.


When on the topic of how to get buy-in from the team, Leone voiced that the top-down approach is essential, while Robertson shared that a survey reported that 85% of senior leadership felt their training was effective, while only 43% of the staff felt the same. He then reinforced the point that you must engage with your team and find out what their needs are first, so that you are able to train to their needs and desires which in return will build buy-in. He also cautioned against having a “box-checker mentality” meaning that training isn’t a box to check, it is much more comprehensive and evolving. Ruhumbika agreed and shared that she does roundtables with her teams to discover what they feel and need. She stated, “Line employees are the eyes and ears of the operation so you must talk to them directly.”


Edwards then asked the panel what the barriers to training are. In his experience, Leone found that having only one training was a barrier and that multiple trainings were essential for training new behaviors. He shared that training the managers to apologize and empathize when someone slipped and fell, rather than saying “that happens all the time,” was efficient in creating new behaviors. Robertson expressed that time was a significant barrier and added two important points: 1. you must understand that training and a comprehensive LMS will improve your operation overall and will be worth the investment. The barrier is not investing in training and, 2. don’t wait for your training to be perfect, just start and evolve your training as you go. The common barrier is waiting for perfection. Ruhumbika stated that a common barrier to training is “why.” Oftentimes operators and senior leadership don’t do enough to share the “why” with their teams. The reasons why the company is investing in training is very compelling and can assist the team in getting on-board.


Various questions from the audience were then posed to the panel. The first was about the metrics for engagement or the KPI of engagement. Ruhumbika explained that when she saw her team talking about training, creating content of their own, and then going to the LMS on their own time to stay up to date, she knew they were engaged. One attendee asked about the definition of “engagement” and if there is standardized verbiage? Edwards shared that it is helpful to attach engagement to something else, retention is a common anchor for this concept. Ruhumbika felt that when employees are proactive, their engagement is demonstrated, while Robertson felt engagement was specific to each operation. He feels that “engagement is a mile marker not a destination,” but that it is an indication that things are moving in the right direction. Leone felt that engagement was about having a cohesive team, from the top to the bottom. Overall, the panel agreed that there are a multitude of KPI’s that an operation can use: guest surveys, onboarding success, retention results, etc.


The final question was in regard to the difference between conducting internal training vs. bringing in an external trainer. Ruhumbika felt this was dependent on the topic, but very often managers are great ambassadors of the message, while external trainers can lend an air of authority or gravity to certain topics which can get the attention of the team. Robertson felt that with hard skills, a credible colleague is great whereas an outside industry expert can be great for teaching soft skills. Edwards shared that, as an external trainer, she often collaborates with Chefs and BOH operations who need the authority she brings to FOH training and Leone echoed that sentiment by sharing that subject matter experts can answer deep questions that a manager might not be able to.


Overall the panel was met with great applause and appreciation from the attendees and the room became an energetic networking venue for the remainder of the morning.


For any questions about the event or to connect with a panelist, please contact Derek Sherman at 212-977-9500 for more information.

Anchor 1
bottom of page