Chipotle Chief People Officer Marissa Andrada: “ Being kind is infectious and is the foundation for the willingness to give; You never know what someone may be going through, so be kind to everyone, all the time”
I would inspire a movement for kindness. Being kind goes a long way. It is so basic, and we are all capable of being kind. Being kind is also infectious and is the foundation for the willingness to give. You never know what someone may be going through, so be kind to everyone, all the time.
I had the distinct pleasure to interview Marissa Andrada. Marissa joined Chipotle as Chief People Officer in April 2018. Prior to joining Chipotle, Ms. Andrada was Senior Vice President of Human Resources & Chief Human Resources Officer at Kate Spade & Company from July 2016 through October 2017, and Senior Vice President of Partner Resources for Starbucks Coffee Company from November 2010 to March 2016. Prior to Starbucks, she served as Senior Vice President of Human Resources at GameStop Corporation and Head of Human Resources at Red Bull North America. Ms. Andrada has a Masters of Business degree from Pepperdine University and a Bachelor of Science degree from California State Polytechnic University at Pomona.
Thank you so much for joining us Marissa! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
A: When I started college, I never would’ve imagined that I would wind up in Human Resources. In fact, I was a biology major, pre-med. While I was passionate about math and science and excelled in school, I realized that I was also passionate about people and experiences. Throughout my life, I was always heavily ‘involved’: I was a cheerleader, I served on student government and I was in campus clubs; I loved creating experiences that would lift people up. I decided to combine my passion for problem solving (math) and people and forge a path in HR where I felt I could be truly impactful.
Please share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at Chipotle?
A: The most interesting thing that’s happened to me since starting at Chipotle continues to happen daily! Every time I visit restaurants, I interact with our team members. I ask questions and find out what they’re truly passionate about; what drives them. I am continually blown away by the number of stories I hear about employees who started at Chipotle ‘for a job’ and ended up with a career and life changing experience. So many have shared personal stories with me about how their boss inspired them to become better, or how learning to cook and prepare real food taught them life lessons, applicable to life outside of work.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
A: In the beginning of my career, I made the mistake of being overly cautious and too serious. I was very concerned with everyone else’s opinions and was so caught up with being ‘perfect’ that I held myself back. I thought I had to have the ‘perfect’ response in every meeting, the perfect email replies, etc. After an important meeting where I was the youngest (and quietest) employee in the room, my manager called me out for not speaking up and sharing my opinion. He encouraged me to own my intelligence and applauded my unique perspective. He said that regardless of who was in the room, my opinion mattered and was valued. This was a defining moment in my career. From then on, I focused on being myself and expressing my thoughts. I often tell my team members ‘you do you.’ I want everyone to exude confidence and know they matter.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Please share an example if possible.
A: There are so many things that make Chipotle stand out. One major difference is that Chipotle was built on a purpose. This purpose matters to everyone. Cultivating a better world is something we do daily, from our food to our people. We make real food accessible and hold our food and each other to the highest standards. Employees join Chipotle because they love our food and they know that we love our food too; stay because of our values, the opportunities we provide, and the chance to make a difference — it is truly amazing!
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
A: Where do I even start? Yes! I am working on a lot of exciting projects with my team. One project I am incredibly proud of is redefining Chipotle’s benefits. We are committed to providing the best packages and incentives for employees at every level. From pay to pets to parenthood, we want each employee to grow and thrive, personally and professionally. We just launched a new bonus structure for ALL employees — which is unheard of outside of Chipotle! We also recently enhanced our Tuition Assistance Program to include GED and ESL courses, not only for the employee but for their family as well. The list goes on about benefits and beyond. It is truly an exciting time at Chipotle.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
- Be yourself
- Fly your feminine flag
- Be confident in who you are, NOT apologetic
- The role of a leader is to inspire confidence in others. Inspire your team to aim high.
- Know that you can’t ‘turn off’ life at work, so be compassionate for what your team members may be experiencing outside of work; show you care. As women, we tend to have an innate nurturing quality and that’s okay — own it and show your team you care about them.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
A: Empower your leaders! The best results yield from collaboration and trust.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
A: While many individuals had an impact on my career, Mark Halcy truly empowered and encouraged me to own my identity. He taught me how to embrace my ability to have impact. He believed in me and gave me opportunities that I am continually grateful for. He also showed that he cared for me as a person and even volunteered to help me move. These are the little things that help employees feel valued. Show compassion, show you care and invest in others.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
A: As a first-generation college graduate in my family, I love helping others navigate their own college experience. It can be daunting doing it on your own and there are so many awesome options like scholarships, internship opportunities and more if you know about them. I believe in paying it forward. I do my best to invest in people and make time to give back and help others find their path, their voice, their purpose. I am actively involved with my alma matter, Cal Poly Pomona and find so much joy in helping others.
If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
A: I would inspire a movement for kindness. Being kind goes a long way. It is so basic, and we are all capable of being kind. Being kind is also infectious and is the foundation for the willingness to give. You never know what someone may be going through, so be kind to everyone, all the time.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
A: “It is not the stimulus, it’s the response.” Grace under pressure. We all have a choice in how we react to situations; it’s the one thing within our control. As a leader, people are counting on us, and your reaction can influence others. I always try to both channel and project positive energy.
Is there a person in the world, or in the U.S., with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
A: I would love to sit down with Diana Ross — she is 75 and fabulous! Diana is an icon and her groundbreaking ways have spanned a lifetime — from her voice, to her music, career and family. She has influenced so many others and practices kindness. I would want to ask about the life lessons she’s learned and carried with her.