Regent University has a reputation for its entrepreneurial spirit, and when it comes to nourishing existing businesses, its corporate partnerships program aims to make education more accessible and build relationships. A luncheon Thursday, April 16, brought out representatives from 15 Hamtpon Roads businesses to Regent’s library atrium.
“We do this event twice a year, so we’ll do this again in October,” said Melissa Nannarone, director of corporate partnerships. “We’ll be able to offer a really great professional development opportunity for our corporate partners, but throughout the year, we’re doing all kinds of things.”
Employee retention was the topic on the table, specifically, how teamwork has played a part at Chick-fil-A in keeping workers wanting to provide exceptional customer service.
“There’s nothing better, nothing more fulfilling, I believe as a business owner, than seeing your employees grow,” said David Cheney, SBL ’04. “I think that’s a huge benefit, and I think it’s also a thing that makes me tick.”
Cheney, with his wife, owns and operates the Hilltop location Chick-fil-A in Virginia Beach. He joined another store owner and operator, Jason Barnes, and Lyndsey Bell who has spent more than 13 years with the company and now is operations manager at a third Virginia Beach Chick-fil-A location. They told stories of how they’ve challenged their employees to put customers first, held them to high standards and shown mercy, making accommodations to play to their workers’ strengths.
“When I went to Regent business school, it was all about servant leadership,” said Cheney. “That’s constantly what we were studying about. I feel like that really shaped and really molded me and prepared me for what we have at Chick-fil-A which is all about servant leadership — not only in my restaurant, not only saying what you should do, but also acting it out, and also servant leadership in our community.”
Regent’s School of Business and Leadership’s Dr. Greg Stone moderated the discussion, and those in the crowd had the chance to ask questions. The event gave guests a glimpse of a Regent business education, and a taste of its vision and values.
“Many of our corporate partnerships are looking for their employees to go back and to get their MBA degree, or to get their master’s in organizational leadership,” said Nannarone. “Our school of Business and Leadership is very much tied into this program, because they’re seeing the impact of those employees able to take advantage of the 25 percent discount and then go back to their employer and really make a difference in that company.”