Title Leadership Development Specialist
Organization Papa Murphy's International
Location Vancouver, Washington
Education Master's degree, science education and middle school science (Plymouth State University); bachelor's degree, environmental science with minors in geographic information systems, business administration, and baking and pastry arts (Paul Smith's College)
Favorite Quote "Satisfied employees have the tools, training and resources to do their jobs well. Engaged employees learn and grow every day." —Eric Garton, Bain & Company
Jessica Wenke is an explorer and problem solver. She has had many experiences—from tending goats to being an international snowshoe competitor to teaching middle school science—and learned that she's happiest when helping others reach their potential. That's what she does as the leadership development specialist at Papa Murphy's International.
What is your favorite aspect of L&D, and why?
My passion is aligning employees' values and norms to Papa Murphy's strategic business goals. I'm fervent about the intangibles that drive strategic success or failure: employee engagement and culture.
Oftentimes, engagement and culture are dismissed because they are difficult to quantify, but that's the challenge that hooks me and makes me excited to go to work every day. Why? Because I get to use my problem-solving skills and influence to make gradual changes in peoples' perspectives and values. Every project I work on is a problem waiting to be solved, and my favorite thing to do is solve problems with purpose.
What are some current training and development needs for the quick service restaurant industry?
The QSR industry is competitive, and what seems to set successful companies apart from others is consistency of the customer experience. That was evident prior to the pandemic, but now it's crucial. In these times, customers must be able to rely on QSR brands to provide healthy, safe environments for them to fulfill their family's basic need for food. Consistent excellence in product and experience with every visit is key to that equation.
Our department is, and always has been, focused on providing customers with the peace of mind that they can pick up, cook, and eat their pizzas safely every time they order one from any Papa Murphy's store. Equipping our teams with the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to set them up for success with our customers is always front of mind.
What instructional design tips do you have for those new to the profession?
You don't get into L&D if you don't believe people can change. You do what you do because you believe that people can adapt, learn, and grow. My biggest piece of advice is to not lose that perspective and to always approach people with a growth mindset and an enthusiasm around learning. Falling into the idea that you are supposed to be the subject matter expert for every training you do can be a dangerous frame of mind. Instructional design is about asking the right questions at the right time and bringing people along on your journey to find ways to improve processes that lead to enhanced performance.
Finally, be open to feedback, because every training experience you create and deliver should allow your audience to grow and should challenge you to develop your own skill sets too.