Passing the Latte: Doug Szilagyi is Ready for the Challenge of Saxbys Saint Joseph’s University
Doug Szilagyi is pumped to be the latest Student Cafe Executive Officer at St. Joe’s. He came to Philly all the way from Richmond, Va. and has some big plans for this cafe — from open-mic nights to community-service initiatives. And of course, great guest engagement and great coffee are at the top of his agenda.
Doug is a sophomore food marketing major and has a hands-on management style. You’re more likely to see him working side-by-side with his team than observing from afar. It’s just Doug’s way of telling them: “I got your back.”
He hopes the whole experience will help him kickstart a career in brand marketing. So if you see Doug around the cafe, say hi!
Shortly before he got started, we spoke to Doug for a quick interview.
Are you excited to get started?
I’m pumped. I can’t wait to put some ideas into action and see how I can grow the cafe to be a lot more successful.
What new ideas are you hoping to bring to the cafe?
New ways to market so I can get people from all sides of campus to come and trying to build up more ways to communicate with people and spread the word on campus. We’ll want to have more events. We had our first open-mic night before winter break, so just throwing more events like that will bring more people in cafe. We also want to do more sampling on other parts of campus. There are plenty of coffee option on campus but I feel like if people tried Saxbys once, they’d be more inclined to get another one.
What are your career aspirations?
I want to work to market a brand. I really want to see how my marketing efforts can make an impact. I’ll still have other co-ops after this, so all these experiences combined will help give me a better idea of what I want to do for my career.
What are your thoughts on the team you’re inheriting?
I think it’s a strong team. There are a lot of good leaders and there’s a lot of room for them to develop a lot further. They’re all enthusiastic and believe in the mission of Saxbys and they all want to make life better.
How do you plan on managing team members who are essentially the same age?
At the beginning you have to lay out the expectations for everyone and then make sure those are met. As long as everyone does their job, everyone’s going to be happier. If people start slacking, that’s going to impact other areas of the cafe. I want to make sure everyone is aware of what’s expected.
How do you plan to build a culture based off your leadership style within six months?
By being more collaborative and making sure everyone knows I’m not above working side-by-side with them. I want them to know I’m putting in just as much effort as they are. Having a lot of open communication and being very clear with team in regards to what needs to get done is crucial too. We should treat every team member like a guest. People will be happier to come to work if they’re treated nicely.
Any ideas for community leadership initiatives this semester?
I want to talk to the team and see if there are some organizations they are passionate about. I also want to pair with organizations on campus to see if there’s a fit. I want to make sure we’re working with the surrounding community and making them feel welcome in our cafe even though they might not always venture on to campus to get a coffee. I definitely want to help clean up campus and the city. There are inner city gardens in Philadelphia that are beyond disrepair. I volunteered to help weed and clean up those spaces and it was very rewarding. I think that would be a good experience for our team and make an impact in the surrounding community.
How can you attract more guests?
We have very short peak times then it’s quiet. I’d like to find the people who are available during our slower times like faculty and professors. That will definitely help create more traffic during those quiet times.
How do you plan to keep your cafe accountable to the day-to-day responsibilities in order to manage costs?
We’ve got to continue making sure we don’t overuse product. For example, making sure no one is wasting milk. We also have to make sure we’re ordering the right amounts. By now we have a pretty good idea of what we’re using and not using, but we’ll keep adapting our plan as things change.
What advice did you receive from Maddie Dierolf, the previous SCEO?
She told me to step up my game, be on top of everything and be open to learning new things and learning from my mistakes.
What are you most excited about?
I’m most excited about developing new skills and moving into a leadership role at Saxbys. I really identify with the company’s mission and core values. It’ll be a great opportunity for me to grow not only as a person but in my future career.