Whether it’s Tap Dancing or Leading a Saxbys Cafe, Details Make the Difference
Olivia Mills spent her childhood dancing. From tap to jazz to ballet, Olivia spent countless hours perfecting her craft, working diligently on getting her steps just right, and shining onstage.
As a West Chester University student years later, Olivia couldn’t help but notice that Saxbys specifically looks for team members who are ODD — Outgoing, Detail-Oriented, and Disciplined. She knew she’d fit right in.
After working her way from host to barista to team lead in under a year, the 21-year-old is now taking the reigns as Student Cafe Executive Officer. During her six-months at the helm, she’ll run every aspect of the cafe — from team development to community leadership to financial management — while earning class credit and a competitive salary. To succeed, she plans to take the same approach she did to dancing — staying disciplined and focusing on the details.
We caught up with Olivia to learn about her plans for the cafe.
How does your childhood as a dancer help you in your role at Saxbys?
I was a tap dancer. Our dances were very intricate and precise. The head. The arms. The angle of the body. I had to be very detail-oriented to make sure our team looked like a unison group. That made me very attentive to details and it’s definitely transferred over into how I work as an adult. At Saxbys, you’ve got to be Outgoing, Detail Oriented and Disciplined and I think dancing gave me a great head start.
What are your thoughts on the Saxbys mission?
I love the mission. I love the core values. I try to be optimistic everyday and share that with every guest that comes into the cafe. Making their lives better makes my life better.
How do you plan to build a culture based on your leadership style at your cafe?
I’m the first internal team member hired for the SCEO position at the West Chester cafe. I’ve been there since the grand opening. I have trained and grown with every single team member since the very beginning. We’ve all grown together. We all get along really well. I’ll be making sure everyone continues to enjoy coming to work. We want this to be a fun place to work. We don’t want it to be a burden. I enjoy stepping into the cafe. I’ll be in the cafe even if I’m not working. Such positivity from our team creates a terrific, collaborative atmosphere that our guests can feel.
As the leader, you may need to discipline friends. How will you handle that?
I’m going to have to make tough decisions. If rules are broken, there will be consequences, even if it’s my best friend. That’s just part of being a leader.
How do you plan to balance the best interest of your team while also contributing to the community you’re serving?
We’ve had two groups reach out about hosting open mic nights. We’ve done that in the past and they’ve been huge successes. Also, I’ve noticed that a lot of professors have made Saxbys their meeting spot for office hours. I want to coordinate with the business building to make that process a little more formal if possible.
How do you plan to learn the details of the profit/loss statement?
I have to realize that every decision I make in terms of ordering or prepping is going to affect our profitability. It’s about finding the perfect balance. Obviously I want to maximize profits and minimize losses.
You’re a marketing major who’s keeping her career options open. How does the Saxbys Experiential Learning program prepare you for your eventual career— whatever it might be?
Being SCEO will give me opportunities and experiences that people just don’t get as an undergrad. Conquering the three pillars of team development, community leadership and financial management will teach me so much about business. After this, I’ll be prepared for any challenge that comes my way.
Olivia's "latte flex"