Burger King Salutes May Payne-Cvengros
Burger King Black History Month Honoree
Ms. Payne-Cvengros is presently the Director of Retail Image and Design for Burger King Corporate, but wasn't always in that position. In fact, she began working for BK in an administrative assistant capacity after graduating high school wherein her responsibilities entailed tracking and reporting budgetary projects in the New Concepts Department. May saw the potential the company offered and over the 20 years of her sojourn with BK took advantage of the opportunities the company afforded her. She rose to the challenge, attending college along the way.
During her tenure with the company, Payne-Cvengros evolved from administrative assistant to purchasing agent to senior purchasing executive. As a purchasing executive, she oversaw production, development, implementation and project strategy. All this, while establishing and maintaining the company's brand standards. She developed a uniform strategy which saved Burger King upwards of $2.8 million, while negotiating the purchase of an $80 million restaurant décor and playground equipment program that saved BK an additional $6 million.
“I held several different positions but knew by taking initiative I could grow. I started as an administrative assistant than moved over to Purchasing as a buyer and then became a manager. After that, I became a marketing manager and strategist, “ May recalled. “Later I moved into Operations where I spent 4.5 years. Eventually, I became a director and moved back into marketing. Currently, I head up the Retail Image and Design Department. In that post, I conceptualize, design and implement our uniform program which also applies to our playground design. This project encompasses building and creating a Burger King playground design of the future,” remarked the creative design planner.
Payne-Cvengros is also a key part of the design implementation of the 20/20 project involving BK's new restaurant strategy. “You may have heard in the news lately about the BK Whooper bar and the 20/20 design, which is where we plan to take the BK company in future. Per our 20/20 initiative, we talked to consumers to get a feel of what customers think about BK. Customers seemed to like fun, flame broiling and backyard barbecues. Therefore, we took into consideration the customers feelings and attributes and incorporated them into the new BK design. It's important that our designs reflect the look and feel acceptable to our customer base,” stated May.
As a woman within the BK organization, May is interested in helping other women come up in the ranks. Thus, she co-founded the Women’s Leadership Forum, an internal organization created to enhance the leadership potential of women. “The Women's Leadership Forum was started as a grounds-up organization to help people to network and get to know one another,” remarked the department head. “We want to learn, grow and meet others as a cohesive group with a direction in mind. We hope to meet other women within the vast Burger King organization who are seeking to place women in leadership roles. We started with eight or nine people and have grown to over 300 people which include men. We also have a mentoring program and the BK Outreach Program which we developed about 5-6 years ago with the non profit agency, Camillus House. Via this endeavor, we sought a hands-on-face-to-face interaction with people who need our help. Within Camillus House is a residency called Somerville. Somerville houses about 50 residents. Each month we provide different classes, hold sessions and give Life Skills seminars. We teach the residents how to dress for success, balance their checkbooks and suggest various projects that could benefit their lives,” explained the corporate executive.
Burger King offers a Big Brothers/Big Sisters Program wherein sophomore HS students enter the program to learn all aspects of business. They remain in the program for three years. “We encourage kids to set goals. We explain to the kids how BK employees started out and grew to where they are today. We encourage the kids to get an education, develop initiative and use their potential to become the future leaders of tomorrow. We also interact with parents as well. Right now, we have 96 kids in the program and expect the numbers to grow each year,” remarked Payne-Cvengros enthusiastically.
May reflected on the importance of Black History Month. “As an African American my history is vital to me. Black History month offers an opportunity to reflect and look back. We need to foster motivation, drive and ambition. We need to tell the story of different generations helping other generations. African Americans and all of us, should look back at the past to see how those who came before us coped, survived and achieved. In doing so, we should motivate this generation to achieve in our work environments and indeed uplift each other and our communities,” stated the determined Burger King motivator. “We should take pride in the strides we have made, especially since those in the past achieved despite the odds and adversity they faced.”
Ms. Payne-Cvengros stressed the importance of those who paved the way. She notes, “Our predecessors didn't always have the opportunities and/or education available to us today. I started out as a high school graduate but pulled myself up by my boot straps. It took me a while to get my college education but I persevered and did it (one of only 2 in my family), and am now a director in the BK organization. I encourage young people to believe in themselves so they can do the same.”
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