Celebrating Hispanic & Latinx Heritage Month: Juan Rodriguez
Juan Rodriguez is a 20-year veteran of Compass Group USA. As part of his role at Wolfgang Puck Catering, he’s a staple at the Oscars® and other high-profile Hollywood events. In his spare time, this native of Mexico, who moved to the U.S. when he was 9 years old, likes to relax by fishing and working on the roses in his garden. Read Juan’s story to learn what it’s like inside Hollywood’s biggest night and how he motivates his team.
Why is it important to celebrate heritage months?
People should never forget their roots, and everyone should have the opportunity to celebrate who they are. I’m lucky enough to see and learn about a lot of different cultures when I travel for work. It’s one of the parts of my job I love the most.
You help put on big events for Wolfgang Puck Catering, but what is your favorite event in your culture?
Christmas is my favorite. In my culture, we sing, pray and invite the neighbors over to celebrate. And, it’s tradition for every family to bring a piñata to break. In my culture, we also celebrate Three Kings Day on January 6 – a traditional holiday where children receive gifts.
What is it like preparing for the Oscars®?
My previous job with Universal Studios Hollywood gave me the knowledge I needed to handle big events for Wolfgang Puck Catering. I’ve worked at the Oscars® for over 20 years now. It takes almost a month to get everything ready and there is so much planning involved. The setup is crazy, then it’s over after a couple of hours. It can be stressful, but it’s also a lot of fun and it’s an amazing accomplishment.
How do you create a winning team?
When my event team walks in the door, I embrace them. I walk the team through the plan, so everyone knows what to do. I’m very hands-on and will jump in to help if anyone needs it. Attention to detail is everything in this business. Sometimes we get thrown a last-minute curveball, but I encourage my team to never give up. I believe if you work with heart, you can meet the deadlines.
Also, I think being able to relate to your team helps bring everyone together. Many of my employees speak Spanish and I think it is helpful for them to see a Spanish-speaking leader who can understand and relate to their lives outside of work.
What work accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am proud that I can make a difference and that my work makes a difference. I love teaching and training people and opening new venues. One of my most favorite openings was the Georgia Aquarium. I had a great amount of responsibility and proved I could handle it.
How do you show up as your best self at Compass?
I always challenge myself to do better and better. When I am around, people know that everything is going to be taken care of – no matter how big the event is – and it feels great to be able to handle any request or be the person who finds a solution. I am proud of that. Some people get energy from coffee. I get energy from doing big events.