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Natalie Sullivan

Natalie Sullivan

Sr. Human Resources Business Partner, Lehigh Valley Restaurant Group – Red Robin

Briefly describe your job and responsibilities.

In charge of overall vision and direction of the company. Oversee the financials. Work on new initiatives and projects for the growth of the company.

What does a “typical” day at work look like for you?

Each day is a little bit different. I may be speaking with Managers in Training about their experience, attend meetings with my team to talk about our current and future projects, working on my own projects to help make LVRG a great place to work, interfacing with operators and maintaining my email. Different times during the year offer different challenges; Open Enrollment happens at the end of the year; I gather information and announce our Team Member and Manager of the Year at the end of the year. I always have some type of engagement project or compliance project that I’m working on.

What was your first job?

My first job was a host at Texas Roadhouse.

When did you know this industry was right for you?

I always enjoyed working in restaurants and making connections with guests. Once I wanted to be out of day-to-day operations, I always knew I wanted to support the industry in some way.

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to where you are today.

I attended Penn State University and obtained a bachelor’s degree in Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Management. I started my management career at Red Lobster upon graduation. After a little over three years at Red Lobster, I found a job posting for a Manager of Talent Acquisition at Red Robin. I felt like this position could be a great start to supporting the industry, by finding Restaurant Managers (which, I knew this job well), and working in an office environment. I later chose to pursue more formal HR education, obtaining two certifications and an MBA with a concentration in HR.

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part is making people happy. I enjoy working on any project that will help people feel more fulfilled at work (example: creating a Kash for Kids program that awards an extra paycheck to anyone starting a paternity leave) or that will bring more fun into work (example: being the administrator of a monthly Team Member/Manager of the Month contest).

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Currently, the changing environment with COVID, how the regulations change without notice and the possibility of the ETS by OSHA. In HR, we always need to be prepared with a plan for compliance regardless of if regulations actually pass.

What advice would you give to students interested in your profession?

Within the HR profession, I could work supporting various industries. I have always worked in the hospitality industry since it’s my favorite. Organizations that value hospitality and taking care of their Team Members make going to work every day a lot more enjoyable. We have a drive to want to make other people’s day and it’s nice to be a part of that. Working within this industry or supporting this industry comes in many forms.

What achievement are you most proud of?

I am most proud of continuing my education in HR so I can be a subject matter expert in my field. I have the hands-on experience of the job within a restaurant and now I am always trying to gain more knowledge of HR.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I like to spend time with my husband and son, making memories as a family. I enjoy going to the gym and never say no to a shopping trip!

What is your favorite food to make or eat?

If I had to choose, I’d say Italian is probably one of my favorites. I love anything with pasta, chicken and vegetables or stir fries with rice, chicken and veggies.

What’s at the top of your bucket list?

Visit Fiji, the Maldives or Bora Bora.