Jennifer Durham

This entry is part 15 of 69 in the series

Jennifer Durham, Checkers Drive In Restaurants

 Jennifer Durham

Checkers Drive In Restaurants, Inc.
V.P. of Franchise Development

Years with company:  Over 11 years

Education degrees and professional/volunteer organizations:
Master’s and Bachelor’s of Accountancy from the University of Florida; member of AICPA, International Franchise Association, Women’s Foodservice Forum, Leadership Tampa Bay, Hillsborough County Drug Abuse Comprehensive Coordinating Office

Mentors and how have they assisted you in your career:
I am so fortunate to have had wonderful mentors in life. First, and most importantly, my parents have been always and forever encouraging me to stretch and strive for anything my heart desired: Whether that was playing basketball in grade school at the towering height of 4’8” or aspiring to be the world’s best architect among a sea of talented men. While I ultimately pursued my Accounting degree, every turn in life brought me closer to where I am today. Helping franchisees fulfill their dream of restaurant ownership is gratifying in a way that I would have never expected. I certainly have Rick Silva, my chief executive officer and our “Undercover Boss,” to thank for that.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements? Do you have a defining moment of your career to date?
I’ve learned that careers are comprised of multiple opportunities and moments. I’ve also found that the moment you release control and allow yourself to follow your heart, your career becomes far more gratifying. Pursuing an accounting degree and a thorough understanding of business was my pursuit in college to ready me for a business of my own. That led me to Checkers, a chain of QSR restaurants that I loved. I would ride across campus for those famous seasoned fries, which contributed greatly to my freshman 15, but had no idea at that time that I would spend so many formative years with the company. From Accounting and Finance to Information Technology and now Franchise Development. I’ve grown as the company has grown and the experiences in various departments provide wonderful bases for my discussions with new franchisees. When selecting a franchise, it’s critical that the support staff enjoy the culture and have longevity with the brand. After all, a franchise investment is a very long-term decision.

Most challenging part of your job:
While I never have the same day twice (which I am very grateful for), most recently finding aspiring and existing franchisees financing has been more difficult. As a result, we’re exploring non-traditional and new financing options.

Advice for upcoming younger executives:
Follow your heart and give each project everything you have. That way, you’ll never have any regrets and you’ll find yourself open to opportunities as they present themselves. Trying to be in control often leaves you feeling defeated when the reality is there is a fair amount of life that we just can’t control!

I adore being a mom. My two-year-old son Matthew has provided me such joy and perspective. I love to watch him play and think. He’s an avid “reader” and adores books and we love the ritual of bedtime stories.  I also absolutely love live music – and I relish any opportunity to catch a concert.