Bakers Journal

Webinar explores bakery training and employee development

February 2, 2023
By Bakers Journal

On Jan. 25 Bakers Journal attended an excellent webinar hosted by the Bread Bakers Guild of America and the Retail Bakers of America, called “Beyond the Bench: Training and Employee Development.”

Karen Bornarth, executive director of the BBGA, and Marissa Velie, certification and education director for the RBA, moderated the session.

Three industry professionals who have built and currently manage productive and motivated teams and successful bakeries shared day-to-day challenges and their approach to training and employee development:

  • Joanne Chang, co-owner and pastry chef, Flour Bakery and Myers + Chang
  • Dianna Daoheung, co-founder and head baker, Black Seed Bagels
  • Laurie Williams-Fleury, production manager, Tomcat Bakery

Chang said in becoming co-owner, she went from having one boss to having 12 bosses – the staff. “My role was to do everything I could to support them so that they could do what I needed them to do. I learned how to do servant leadership before I knew it was a phrase.” She said she makes a point of saying hello to everyone by name. “I remember that happening to me. It was so impactful.”

Daoheung said, “My management style has changed as we’ve grown. You can’t be all things to all people. I like to use the management team I’m working with and empower them to become leaders. . . . I try to help people find their own management style and skills.”

Williams-Fleury said, “People are your greatest asset. I look to my team because I can’t do my work without them.” She explained that her goal is to make their jobs easier and remove any obstacles she can.

All three agreed that investing time, effort, careful thought and money into training is crucial to the success of their business. Advantages include less turnover, strong synergy among staff, new people caught up to speed faster, appreciative team members, more consistent products and stronger relationships with vendors.

“Retention is critical,” Williams-Fleury said.

The hour-long webinar was the first of several planned sessions in the Beyond the Bench series. The next webinar is planned for April.

When you become a member of the Baking Association of Canada you receive a free one-year membership to the BBGA. Visit for more information on future webinars, resources and how to become a member.

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