After ‘priceless’ Subway tenure, exec joins Biggby Coffee
Lisa Oak started as a lease negotiator at Subway between her second and third year in law school for $6.75 an hour, she recalls. She became a vice president there in 2005, working with Subway co-founder and her mentor, the late Fred DeLuca.
What did she take from that 29-year experience? “Everything. I grew up working side by side with an iconic entrepreneur. I can’t boil that into a sound bite,” she says, but then she tries for one word: “Priceless.”
Now Oak has joined Biggby Coffee as chief development officer, with a goal of opening 50 stores in 2019. She’s “thrilled” about her new colleagues and Biggby’s co-CEOs, Bob Fish and Mike McFall. “I’ve known them for a long time. It’s a new job but it’s not a new relationship,” she says.
Asked how she starts in a large new role, she says, “Have I mentioned that I’m a New Yorker?” meaning she prefers the direct approach but also will honor the brand’s progress already made. “You guys have done great,” she likes to tell her new colleagues. “You’ve gotten to 230 stores without me, so I’ll rock the boat but I can’t capsize it because you’ve built this great brand to this point and I respect that.”
In her first 30 days with Biggby, she launched a referral program to give incentives to employees to attract franchise owners to the company, and lowered the cost for military veterans to purchase a franchise.
“We’ll make measured changes as we go, and I’m sure that will be a constant, as it always was in Subway. We were always a work in progress,” she said.
She always keeps that first job at DeLuca’s Subway in mind. “It was an unbelievable ride. Now I’m hopefully doing his memory and legacy justice and helping this team.”
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