College grad understands plight of working students

A MANAGER'S BALANCING ACT

February 18, 1993|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff Writer

Not long ago, Brian Roche was trying to balance classes at Geneva College and the job that paid for them.

So the 24-year-old manager of Pizza Hut in Westminster said he understands when his employees have to do the same thing.

"It was hard for me to find a job to work around my class schedule," said the Westminster native, who graduated from the Beaver Falls, Pa., college in 1991 after majoring in business and minoring in aviation.

Mr. Roche said his jobs ranged from fast-food chains to grocery stores before he finally landed a position in the college's cafeteria.

"I know what they are going through, so I try to be as good as I can," said Mr. Roche, who was promoted to manager at the Pizza Hut in September. He entered the company's management trainee program last June.

"I ended up at the school cafeteria because the others [employers] didn't want to work around my schedule. And classes come first."

Of his 15 employees now, 12 are students, Mr. Roche said. Ten are in college.

"We like our waitresses to be [at least] 18, because you have to be that old to pour alcohol," he said. "That's why most of them are in college."

The students request the working hours they would prefer, and Mr. Roche works around it the best he can.

"He's an absolute doll," said Gienie Jordan, a 37-year-old Carroll Community College student. "He works so well with us when we need time for school, juggling people and plugging people in.

"He understands that we all have families and that we all have school as well."

Ms. Jordan said Mr. Roche's willingness to help his employees makes them more likely to cooperate with him when he has a problem.

"It's so amusing during midterms, the place clears out," said Ms. Jordan, who has worked at Pizza Hut since October 1991. "He wonders if anybody will be here to work, so someone will say, 'I can give you two hours on Tuesday,' and someone else will say 'I can give you two hours on Thursday.' "

For example, the restaurant ran out of dough one night, and none of the six other Pizza Huts in Carroll County had any to spare.

"We were all scrambling on the phones, trying to find someplace that had some extra," Ms. Jordan said. "It was Brian's day off, and even he was calling around."

Finally, the shift manager found some dough in Annapolis.

"I told her, 'Brian has no clue where he is going,' " said Ms. Jordan, who offered to drive to Annapolis after her shift ended to get the dough. "I have a trailer down there, so I at least know the area and was in a better position to find it."

When Ms. Jordan got to the Annapolis restaurant, employees there couldn't believe she had driven nearly 65 miles to do a favor for her boss, she said.

"They all looked at me sort of strangely," she said. "But I didn't bat an eye. I considered myself the logical choice, since I knew the roads in that area. It gave him some time with his wife, which she deserves since he works 65 to 70 hours a week."

Ms. Jordan said other employers she's had since her family moved here from New York have not been as understanding. She said she was fired from Kmart when her son got sick and she couldn't go to work because she didn't have a baby-sitter.

"They just didn't want to hear about it," she said. "Brian understands if you have a problem, that your child is sick and you can't come in. He works with us very well."

Ms. Jordan also said Mr. Roche is considerate of his employees, which makes them more of a team.

"I think 99 percent of the crew would go to the wall for him," she said. "I'll go and close for him when he's in a spot, and I know that he appreciates it."

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