Melissa Strait

This entry is part 77 of 89 in the series

Strait-MelissaMelissa Strait

Arby’s Restaurant Group
Chief People Officer

Years with company: 30

Education degrees and professional/volunteer organizations: I received a BA in Psychology from Hope College.  I am a member of SHRM.

Mentors and how have they assisted you in your career: I have had many mentors in my career.  The first is Steve Tripp.  He was the owner of the first Arby’s restaurant that I worked at.  He involved me in the business side of the restaurant and helped me to see that there was a real career for me in this industry.  He involved me in opening additional restaurants and eventually made me a partner with him in our 6 restaurants.  Another is Russ Umphenour.  He was the CEO of RTM Restaurant Group, which was the largest franchisee of Arby’s. He encouraged me to set goals and develop beyond the restaurants.  He gave me my first role in Training and then allowed me additional exposure to Leadership Development and HR.  He had high expectations for me and always challenged me to stretch and learn.  I would not be where I am today without the influence of these two men.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements? Do you have a defining moment oyour career to dateI am proud of the fact that I began as a cashier at Arby’s. I moved through the ranks in operations and then moved to a training role in the support center, eventually taking on leadership development and HR as well.  This background in operations has helped me to be more effective as I have grown, and has allowed me to contribute in a meaningful way as an executive of the brand.

Advice for upcoming younger executives: Never stop learning, remain flexible in your thinking and always believe in yourself.

Hobbies: Photography