Bold Women in the C-Suite: Paige Robinson
Name: Paige Robinson
Brand: American Family Care
Title: Vice President, Franchise Development
Years in franchising: 15
No. of units: 300
How important is making bold moves in a woman’s path to the C-suite? Everyone has heard the adage, “More deals get done on the golf course than the board room.” It’s true. One would hope and expect that merit, ability, and performance would outweigh all else. I don’t believe that you must be the loudest person in the room, but your actions should speak loudly enough to make a very bold statement.
Describe bold moves you’ve made in your career. Making the jump from fast casual dining to healthcare franchising was quite the shift, especially with absolutely zero healthcare experience.
How did you envision those moves changing the brand you were with? When I made the decision to go all-in from supporting multi-unit franchisees to the franchisor side, it was my goal to elicit positive change by improving the franchisee experience. I didn’t know much, but I knew that the franchisees would be a wealth of knowledge and feedback. I made it my mission to meet as many franchisees as possible, create relationships with them, and learn how we could best help and support them through our rapid growth.
How has your leadership helped evolve the brand? After several years at AFC, I decided to become a franchisee in another vertical with my husband. Understanding from a franchisee and small-business owner’s point of view has been instrumental in the way I approach candidate development and the approval process with our team. The top priority is to protect the integrity of our franchisees’ investments and the brand.
Was there pushback? How did you handle that? There wasn’t any pushback from our C-suite leadership! We are absolutely aligned on bringing in only the very best franchisees and bettering our support structure year over year to provide value and gain trust.
How are you imparting a culture of boldness to other women in your organization? Since my promotion to vice president in May 2022, we’ve seen many other women being promoted to executive-level roles. I wasn’t the first, and I certainly won’t be the last. We have an amazing group of women (and men!) who are bullish on the success of our brand and our franchisees. That culture is infectious!
What motivates you as a leader? My goal is to encourage and inspire the team around me to accomplish their goals, both personal and professional. It gives me so much joy to witness the team’s successes, but the real motivator is when we can work through challenges together and come out on the other side as stronger and more confident leaders
What are some ways women leaders in franchising can drive change? Don’t simply ask for a seat at the table. Pull up a chair and provide value! There are many organizations women can be a part of in franchising to drive positive change. Join one. I love Dolly Parton’s quote, “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” To me, that means standing up for what you believe in, and doing it with integrity.
What role has mentoring played in your career? How did you meet your mentors? My mentors have always challenged me to think outside the box. I have often found that my mentors and I have genuine shared interests outside of business, which makes it easier to stay in touch. For me, it’s art, wine, music, and travel. I’ve met most of my mentors through franchising!
Describe one of your biggest failures. What did you learn, and how did it contribute to greater personal or business success? I failed at my first job post-college. I attribute the failure to distraction and an unclear path for my future. Before then, I’d never had to shoulder the responsibility of failing something so important. That was the turning point. I’m grateful that it happened early, because it gave me the humility I needed to listen and absorb good work habits. There is very little that you can’t accomplish with hard work and a positive attitude!
What is one of the toughest decisions you’ve had to make, and how did it affect your life? The goal is to avoid disappointing anyone, but it ends up creating so much additional stress. Saying “no” is powerful and healthy. Once I learned how to use that word to set healthy boundaries, life has become much more manageable.
If you could do it all over again, knowing what you know now, what would you do differently? If I had one opportunity to go back in time, I’d write down or record everything that my grandparents shared and taught me about life and business before they left this earth. That said, I believe that every single experience in life leads you to the present moment. No regrets here! Only gratitude for the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
What advice do you have for aspiring female leaders? We finally hear the amazing rallying cry of women supporting women in the marketplace, and it’s just starting to catch up to where I believe franchising has been for as long as I’ve been in the space (15+ years). The level of support and cheerleading that you receive in this business is unsurpassed. I’ve been nurtured, mentored, and supported from day one by the leaders in this industry, which ultimately gave me the confidence to know I could succeed. When you have a question or make a mistake, there is an entire support system ready to help you and lift you up. There’s no sense of cutthroat mentality in franchising. My advice, above all, would be to get involved. Find something you’re passionate about supporting and dive in. I have recently become a member of the Pride Franchise Leadership Council, and I am so excited to dig my heels in and support our mission of fostering awareness and providing franchise opportunities for the LGBTQ+ community.
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Franchise Update Magazine: Issue 1, 2023