Q & A with Culinary Arts Grad Stephanie Lietzau-Erdman
The director of operations for the Milwaukee Harley-Davidson Ride Entertainment Group, Stephanie Lietzau-Erdman, got her start at Fox Valley Technical College as a 2000 graduate of the Culinary Arts program. She is also the recipient of FVTC’s 2013 Outstanding Alumni Award.
What first brought you to Fox Valley Technical College?
Like many others, I began my first job at the age of 15 working in a restaurant. I was immediately drawn to the intensity, customer interaction, and ability to make people happy through serving their needs.
I come from a long line of small business owners, so the idea of running my own business or restaurant inspired me! I realized I needed to refine my culinary and hospitality skills to complement a business administration degree that I was pursuing. While researching colleges, I found that Fox Valley Tech was the only technical college that had both the credentials and reputation to assist me on my path.
How did FVTC help you on your career path to Harley-Davidson’s Ride Entertainment Group?
Beyond FVTC’s extensive curriculum, the true benefit of my education came from involvement in the Culinary Arts Club. Chef Jeff, a mentor of mine from FVTC, taught me the value of networking and supported my growth as an individual.
I began to discover the broader spectrum of what I could do with my degree versus what I should do. Networking connected me to Chaz Hastings, with whom I found common goals to develop his endeavor, the Ride Entertainment Group.
What do you enjoy most about your position at Milwaukee Harley-Davidson’s Ride Entertainment Group?
It is my mission to take our restaurant group and formulate a professional culture within our portfolio of small businesses. While doing so, I have the honor of creating career paths for 100-plus service industry employees who work within our group to foster an environment of personal growth and leadership development.
What advice can you give others about selecting a college?
It’s important to select a college that has a proven track record of successful alumni and nourishes career path opportunities. The biggest benefit Fox Valley Tech gave me was a strong sense of leadership and nurturing, both in and out of the classroom.
Seeing my mentors involved in student organizations and in their own communities demonstrated a level of respect that I would not have learned from a lecture. Their coaching improved my self-esteem to explore my true potential.
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