In this uncertain time, we look to academic and industry leaders to share their wisdom and help to guide our next steps. We reached out to some outstanding members of our esteemed community of alumni at the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics to share their experiences and guidance with our larger community.
Dana Herbert, UD Class of 1998 and executive pastry chef of Desserts By Dana, sat down with Lerner to discuss lessons learned during the coronavirus pandemic, advice for their fellow Blue Hens and more.
Q: How have you and your company responded to the coronavirus pandemic?
Herbert: My company has done many things to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. I cannot lie, we were hit with a massive right hook and an uppercut. However I have always learned to fall on my back because if you can look up you can get up.
We have responded to the coronavirus by :
1) Concentrating our hours to the times when we saw the most business.
2) Adjusting staff hours to mimic those times and getting rid of the extra fluff time before and after the peak times to reflect a shift that lines up with the peak hours.
3) Making the most popular items and reducing the menu to control food lost.
4) Furloughing as needed to allow staff to be able to collect unemployment so that they could feed their families.
5) Analyzing other areas of the business and if they were not necessary, we cut them.
Q: What are the greatest lessons that you’ve learned during this crisis?
Herbert: The greatest lesson I have learned through this crisis is a strengthened faith and better overall management. It has truly allowed me to thread the needle and find the silver linings in this pandemic.
Q: What pieces of advice do you have for fellow businesspeople?
Herbert: The keys to navigating this pandemic are three fold. Number one, you have to believe and have faith that it will get better. So a man soweth in his heart so is he. It starts there. Secondly, you have to be willing to take responsibility for your actions and decisions within the business. I don’t have to tell any business owner that many times you could be the first one in and last one out and the decisions we make determine the rise and fall or the business. Lastly, the third key is management. You must manage your resources to the best of your ability. Ask for help on the things you do not know. I tend now to look at problems and opportunities in reverse. Learn to look behind the veil.
Q: What is your favorite memory from your time at UD?
Herbert: There are so many memories at UD that it is hard to nail down to just one. A few were my days at Vita Nova restaurant through the hospitality program. It’s amazing and we made amazing food.
Q: What pieces of advice would you give to current UD students?
Herbert: My advice to current UD students is don’t give up now during this pandemic and don’t give up on your dreams. It’s part of your purpose and the reason why you are here. To actively contribute your talents, and gifts (your light) to society to make it better. With such a robust foundation at the University of Delaware I challenge all the current students to truly be a sponge. Learn all you can and begin to hone your craft. Take full advantage of the opportunities while at the University. As an industry professional I can honestly say that in most cases you will not be around as many talented individuals in your career at one time ever again.
Q: What does it mean to you to be a Lifelong Lerner?
Herbert: Being a Lifelong Lerner means having respect and pride for where you came from and where you started to sharpen your skills. A place of learning, wisdom and most importantly mentorship.
Q: Is there anything else that you would like to share in your profile?
Herbert: My advice to everyone in this time of the pandemic and civil unrest is to open their hearts and mind and allow change to happen. To be responsible for our own actions and do better each and every day. True liberty starts with a proper mindset and responsibility.
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