In the run up to her speech at the FCSI TAD 2019 Symposium, Meghan Grace discusses her research, leadership and bridging the gap between foodservice old and new.
What is the focus of your job?
As an associate with Plaid, LLC, I work with individuals and organizations to better understand Generation Z. We focus on helping clients improve individual and organizational practices and processes. My work is all about understanding and working with Generation Z as organization members, students, employees, potential hires, team members, and customers.
How did you begin working in this area?
My initial interest in the topic stemmed from wanting to better understand the young people I worked with on campus. Since we began our research five years ago, I’ve become fascinated with this generation and how they navigate the world – even beyond education and college. I’m intrigued about how their behaviors will impact and influence the world.
What will the focus be for your presentation at the Symposium?
I will be talking about designing a dining experience for Generation Z. This session will focus on Generation Z’s unique preferences on communication, use of technology, and perspectives on the world, which will play a role in how they engage as consumers in the dining and food service industry.
How can the foodservice sector keep up with changing demands of new and emerging customers?
I encourage every leader and organization I work with to gather a group of trusted members of Generation Z they can turn to. If we’re designing experiences (of any kind), we need to include those users in the experience. Generation Z wants to contribute and professionally develop; this way they can engage in professional settings and provide a voice and serve as advocates for their peers. If we want to know how things are changing, why not go to the source creating the change?
What is the first thing operators need to get right to capture these customers?
Authenticity and transparency are incredibly important to Generation Z in the relationships they build with other people.
You also do some work on leadership; what are the traits of a good leader?
A quote that I think about often and bring myself back to is from Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” In my opinion, a good leader ignites feelings among those they lead to achieve something bigger and greater. Great leaders make those around them feel like they can be something bigger, do something greater, and make the world a bit better.