Yesterday, marks the first official day of Lukas’ NEW JOB.
No, no, he hasn’t switched companies, he’s still with Chick-fil-A, but this summer he (we!) decided to take the plunge for him to try to make an internal shift within the company.
Lukas was hired in April 2019 to do a role that would split his time between corporate (known as the Support Center) staff and Restaurant Operators. His goal was a HUGE one — to help facilitate relationships between the two parties as the company continues to get larger and larger. He would be spending a lot of face time with Operators and in Restaurants as part of achieving that goal. He put together an exceptional plan that was backed by leadership to do just that, set to launch in the spring of 2020.
Does that date sound familiar? Does the timing reference give you a little PTSD??
As with the rest of the world, March 2020, our lives changed drastically. Lukas came home with us full time and still continued to work on his plan of execution with no idea the world would change even more, soon after. Summer 2020, he was called up by the organization to use his Restaurant knowledge in a completely different way. He was asked to put his work on pause and take a temporary job in the Supply Chain department, getting his hands dirty with the front line challenges of Restaurants.
“Our truck was delayed a few hours and we don’t have any containers for ice dream, what do we use to package it instead?”
“We are six hours away from being out of chicken and having to shut the doors.”
“This is the fifth time this month we’ve received moldy strawberries.”
“Our distribution center is only functioning at 50% capacity because of COVID, these 80 Restaurants are going to be affected with deliveries.”
It was a sixty day assignment he did so well, they asked him to stay on another 30 days. Ninety days in, he walked away from the assignment having loved the action, the team and the part of the business, and walked back into his former group to a completely reorganized department.
We are blessed in the Chick-fil-A family that “reorg” doesn’t mean the scary stuff it means at other companies. I can’t be ignorant here and pretend this is the same story for everyone else. The pandemic has rocked people’s worlds and it’s a miss for me to not say my heart hurts for those I know and those I don’t who experienced devastating job loss because of this nasty virus. Reorg, for us, didn’t mean layoffs but it did mean a reallocation of resources based on the (obvious) changing needs of the business post-pandemic.
Basically, Lukas left his job for a short season and returned to a completely different job. A job that was no longer Restaurant facing and was 100% staff centered. It took a few months for everyone to settle into the new organization structure and he was open-minded to the exciting opportunities the role would open up for him. His new team did awesome stuff like training all the new people leaders to identify their unconscious biases when hiring and managing their teams, teaching new staff about Truett Cathy and the history of the business, even participating in development for the highest level executive leadership.
He loved the challenge, he loved all the new stuff he was learning, he loved the face time with so many people on staff, he loved his leader and team and so much about the role. AND the whole time there was this nagging feeling of how much he missed the Restaurant.
If you don’t know our story, when we started dating and were first married, our family dream was to own a Restaurant ourselves, a dream Lukas had worked towards on and off for 20 years with focused dedication during a five year sacrifice. God had radically different plans for our family and He also never forgot the desire of Lukas’ heart was to be a Restaurant facing member of the Chick-fil-A family. Lukas loves the action at the Restaurant level, the man just comes alive with the immediate challenges at this level of the business and I knew deep down he wasn’t in his permanent (or even long term) role in the organization.
At the Support Center, the closest to the Restaurant staff are all types of consultants. These people are interacting with the Restaurants, the Operators and their staff, to solve challenges at a chicken selling, drive-thru rotating, milk-shake making level. There are all kinds of consultants at the office. Folks who focus on drive-thru or finances or leadership or… honestly, I don’t really know what I’m talking about but I do know there are a plethora of opportunities to be a bridge between the Support Center and the Restaurants and I knew, just knew, that if Lukas was going to be happy in his career longterm, one of these roles was probably something he’d want to do eventually.
A few months ago, he received a call from his temporary pandemic Supply Chain former team member who said DUDE, we have an open spot on our team — join us!!!
He checked out the job description and the reality of “40% travel” stared back at him. The guy who had a 5ish week old baby, a wife recovering from childbirth, and a freaking toddler, thought there’s no way this is going to fly. Impossible. Absolutely impossible. But our God does impossible stuff all the time so his excitement for the chance to be a consultant conquered his fear of approaching me about the opportunity. My first reaction wasn’t perfect. I don’t think my second one was any better but after a whole bunch of prayer and wise counsel I told him to go for it.
The look on his face when I said “we’d figure it out” was priceless. Really? We were going to go for this. Not only a career change but one that could possibly mean him being gone from our family on a weekly basis. Before he hit submit on his application, we talked through logistics ad nauseam. With each other, with our families, with our counselor, with our church family. We told them we were about to do something crazy and wanted to know what they thought, what their expectations were, how much they could help, did they think we were insane?
What we kept coming back to in each conversation was YES, we were a little nuts with how our life was right now (two kiddos in diapers!) but God was calling us to something. He was calling us to look at our circumstances and instead of saying “holy moly, we can’t do that” He wanted our question to be “what needs to change to make this happen?” When we started praying that prayer things fell into place quickly as we started to see how minor tweaks to our home life could set all four of us up for success with a traveling patriarch.
Before he officially submitted his application, one of the Supply Chain teammates reached out and asked if he could cover her for the weekend. That was a perfect opportunity for him (really, us!) to see if this was something we wanted to move forward with. We were 80% sure but after that weekend, we knew this was the absolute perfect next step for him and our family.
The Supply Chain Consultant team felt like he was a perfect fit for them, as well, because it’s official. Lukas is the newest Supply Chain consultant!!! Even me, the chick who lives under a rock with minimal news access and a social media-less life knows that the world of “supply chain” for all industries right now is a crazy one. And it’s a PERFECT place for my incredibly amazing husband to be using his gifts in this season. He brings so much integrity, commitment, steadfastness, joy, loyalty and “get it done-ness” that will shine brightly in the challenging days ahead.
I just got a text from him… “such a good first day on the job!”
After loving this man for six years, it never gets old to see him happy. Cheers to you, Lukas Fortunato! Congratulations on your new role and THANK YOU for being such an incredible provider for our family. We, all three of us!!, love you to the moon and back!