Chick-Fil-A: A Career Conversation with Cheri Stephenson

What motivated you to join Chick-fil-a?
I was drawn to Chick-fil-A for the culture, values, and Corporate Purpose.

How does Chick-fil-a convey to employees a sense of belonging?
Chick-fil-A is very deliberate about selecting candidates and hiring professionals who align with the Core Values of the Company: Purpose Driven, Pursuing What’s Next, Here to Serve, Better Together. In doing so, the people here cultivate and perpetuate our Culture of Care. There is a high value placed on the whole individual, not just the job a person does. Staff members sincerely desire to know and understand who you are, and in so doing, I have felt a deep sense of belonging in the workplace. In addition, the leadership is very intentional about communicating, repeating, and maintaining focus on our Core Values and Corporate Purpose. In doing so, we all understand what we are working toward together.

In what ways has Chick-fil-a supported your professional development and growth?
Chick-fil-A supports the idea that healthy things grow. Every individual staff member has a professional development budget and is challenged to take responsibility for their own professional development. That could mean attending classes, conferences, or other training activities to develop hard skills. It may also mean mentoring, career coaching, or taking intentional library days to read and research. We create a professional development plan ever year that allows us to document our development areas and what activities we intend to complete to meet those development needs. We also participate in regular performance reviews where we discuss areas of improvement and what’s next in our career journey.

In what ways are you supported in maintaining a healthy work-life balance?
Chick-fil-A currently offers a hybrid work model that we describe as Flexible Futures. This model offers a healthy mix of working in person and remotely, strengthening key elements of the Chick-fil-A culture by fostering collaboration and community. In addition, Chick-fil-A provides a generous PTO package, as well as Wellness Hours, that allow staff time off to focus on personal well-being. There is an understanding that a healthy life outside of work is essential to contribute to your best work on the job. When there are personal needs that require our attention, there is a general sense of compassion and understanding among leadership that allows us the freedom to address those needs.

How do you know that you’re making a difference/having an impact with the work that you do?
I have the privilege of recruiting staff members to work at Chick-fil-A. I have worked for other companies, in other environments very different from Chick-fil-A, so I know that this place is truly unique and special. And I get to be an ambassador of this organization, telling the story of what it’s like to work here, and shepherd students and professionals through the recruiting process so that they can experience the same joy and fulfillment I have found working for this company and the Cathy family.

What makes you proud to represent Chick-fil-a?
Chick-fil-A is well known in the marketplace and in local communities for its positive influence. There are so many touch points where Chick-fil-A is making a difference. Not only do our local restaurants provide a great meal and genuine hospitality through exceptional service, but Chick-fil-A has a variety of other programs making a difference in communities and the lives of individual people: Scholarships, Shared Table (food donations to homeless shelters and soup kitchens), youth summer camps (Winshape Camps), community grants, sustainability initiatives, and so many others. I have a deep sense of fulfillment knowing I am part of a larger organization making such a positive impact in so many ways.

In what ways do you feel like you’ve grown since working for Chick-fil-a?
Working at Chick-fil-A has challenged me to not just be a better professional, but a better person. I am surrounded by the most amazing people; not only talented professionals, but the most giving, selfless, and caring people. I get to see close-up the generosity of the Cathy family and of those I work alongside. And I believe I have grown to more deeply and sincerely care for others simply by the examples I’ve seen in my time at Chick-fil-A.

What do you wish you had known about the professional world when you were a student?
Find work that you enjoy, and do it for an organization you respect. Don’t feel pressured to have it all figured out when you are 22 years old. Just move forward and take the best next step, understanding that your career is a journey with many twists and turns, and rarely is it a straight line.

In thinking about emerging young professionals, what advice would you share to those seeking their first opportunities?
Take advantage of internships, co ops, and experiential learning to discover what kind of work you enjoy and what you don’t. Be willing to do the less-than-glamorous work, especially early in your career, and build your skills. They are the foundation for the rest of your career. Don’t sacrifice your personal values in the course of pursuing career growth. Know who you are, what is important to you, and find an organization that honors those values and doesn’t ask you to compromise.

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