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'Female leaders will evolve the industry'

Published: 21 Mar 2017

From Fast Casual

Editor's note: In honor of International Women's Day and Women's History Month, FastCasual interviewed several female leaders in the restaurant industry to learn about their success and how they feel about leading in a male-dominated industry. To read the entire series, click here.

Before taking over as CEO of Dickey's Barbecue a few months ago, Laura Rea Dickey spent her days wrapped up in technology as the chain's CIO. The granddaughter-in-law of Travis Dickey, who founded the chain in Texas in 1941, was responsible in 2015, for implementing Smoke Stack, the chain's cloud-based, big data system that collects customer data.

Smoke Stack has made data-driven business insights quick and easy to attain, allowing the chain to focus efforts on using data instead of manually analyzing it, Dickey said.

"This significant improvement to our reporting and analytics environment translates into more dollars saved and earned, said Dickey, who replaced her husband, Roland, as CEO in January when he became CEO of the chain's parent company. She took on the CEO title without hesitation and suggests that other women do the same. 

"The opportunity is there, just commit and deliver. Don't look around, look at your goal and you'll get there," she said.

Got her start in the biz
More than 20 years ago, Dickey's first "real" job was as a hostess at Lonestar Steakhouse in high school. Her post-college career started in advertising and web design, where her first three clients were restaurants.

On why women make great leaders
"A range of perspectives enhances an outcome, so more woman taking leadership roles in the restaurant industry will continue to help evolve the business. Plus, woman are key decision makers for family dining choices, so it's a valuable perspective."

Advice to women looking to lead

"Restaurants require a relentless work ethic; so work hard, stay a little longer, do more than is required at every opportunity and you will move up."

'Female leaders will evolve the industry'
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