This month, Helena McKenna celebrates 40 years with Compass Group. Helena’s career with the company started in 1978 where she started as a summer hourly employee. Her journey took her through 7 Compass Group sectors and many different positions which led to her current role as General District Manager for Chartwells K12.
1. Where did you start your career?
It seems like yesterday that I started off working a summer job at a corporate executive dining room in NYC. I did a bit of everything from administrative work to kitchen prep and waitressing. I decided to stay with the company while I attended college, working in business and industry.
2. How did your career evolve from there?
After college, I became a purchasing manager at one of the large corporate accounts in NY. From there I moved up to Dining Services Director at an Executive Dining account near Wall Street. I enjoyed that role and it came with a great perk – it was perfectly situated to watch the NYC ticker tape parades!
I worked at an account on Park Avenue for over 10 years and my fondest memory is of the yearly “Big Apple Picnic” I directed on the plaza on Park Avenue!!
I made a move to Chartwells K12 after starting a family to work a similar schedule to my school-aged children. I am grateful I had the opportunity to thrive with the company and still be around to raise my 4 children.
3. Out of all the roles you’ve been in, does one stick out as being your favorite?
Yes, I loved working as a Training Director. I am a people person, I love people and inspiring others so this came naturally to me, it was great.
4. What is your best memory throughout the years?
The friends I have made, they’ve made work a great place to be. There are people I hired over 20 years ago that have grown in their careers and I am still friends with today.
5. What is it that you like most about Compass Group?
You stay somewhere 40 years for a reason – I stayed for the people. The colleagues I’ve worked with have so much passion for what they do, it is inspiring to be around them.
6. Can you share any fun facts about yourself?
Three of my four children attended United States Service Academies and served this country as Officers deployed to Afghanistan, Asia, and other locals in the Mid-East, one is still in the service. I am very proud!
I also love to crochet, especially with a knitting group that makes scarfs and hats for the homeless.