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Catching up with… Firehouse Subs’ Jen Abernathy

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Catching up with… Firehouse Subs’ Jen Abernathy

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The Director of Development for Firehouse Subs Brand on the art of binge watching your favorite shows in between your little kids’ favorites, the beauty of white noise machines and the mentors who inspired her.

What’s the most cherished item in your office?

A coaster given to me by a great mentor and leader with the quote “life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” This also happens to be the best advice anyone has ever given me! Leadership and resilience are built in discomfort.

What’s your favorite time to get things done?

Mid-morning, once the first two cups of coffee have settled in.

What’s the soundtrack that plays in the background of your office?

My own deep thoughts and keyboard strikes, often married with the white noise machines that the kids didn’t turn off before they left for school.

Name the band you cannot take off your playlist.

Too hard to pick one! Some of my favorites are Bastille, Tonic, Vampire Weekend and the Lumineers. I’ll also go ahead and admit publicly to being a Swiftie.

What does a typical workday look like?

Wake up at 5:30 to work out and walk my kids to school, then jump into calls with franchisees after some fresh Tim Horton’s K-cups. My team works cross-functionally with many other functions in the organization—like Operations and Market Planning—and we meet often to align on upcoming deals in their areas. My most favorite days, however, are the ones spent out in the field seeing our franchisee’s restaurants or looking at prospective new sites.

What are you binge watching right now?

Having two little kids doesn’t afford the luxury of true “binge” watching, but we’re managing to keep up with “Only Murders in the Building” when Gabby’s “Dollhouse” or “Bluey” is not on. I am anxiously awaiting another season of “Emily in Paris” and “The Crown.”

What’s the coolest thing you have done since the pandemic hit?

Started traveling with my kids again! We’ve been able to visit friends and family, and enjoyed some wonderful vacations.

What has this experience taught you?

To soak in all the uniqueness of my children and lean into family time over anything. We were able to experience our son in a completely different way when we were all home together 24/7, and I’ll cherish that time forever!

If you knew what was going to happen, what would you have done differently?

Bought some real estate at a 2.5% interest rate.

Favorite comfort food.

Jeni’s Darkest Chocolate ice cream and my mother-in-law’s homemade mac and cheese. I also have little to no willpower around fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.

Biggest influence in your life?

I’ve had two managers/mentors who have shaped me in different ways. One who taught me about coaching, leadership and seeing the promise in a young professional; and the other who taught me to believe in myself by trusting me in elevated roles. I hope that through my own career I’m able to give those gifts to others.

What trait do you most admire?

Authenticity. Being yourself around friends and colleagues alike builds more trust and companionship than any other “version” of you ever could.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Oh, there’s so much. Learn how to ask the right questions, then do a lot of listening to the answers. Have patience, humility and hunger. Live abroad for a year. Invest in real estate. Make mistakes, own them and learn from them. Tell the people you love you love them—often, and in person.

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