From an early age, Maria Hollandsworth’s parents taught her to work hard if she wants something. Coming from a traditional Filipino family, she was encouraged to work towards becoming a successful lawyer or doctor.
Hollandsworth fulfilled that path, earning her bachelor’s degree in public health from the University of the Philippines, but switched course and moved to America in 1988 amid political unrest in the Philippines. Shortly after arriving in America, Hollandsworth accepted a job within the restaurant industry and quickly fell in love with the team atmosphere, working collaboratively to achieve short-term goals.
“When I started pursuing a career in the restaurant industry, I had people along the way that believed in me and gave me opportunities,” said Hollandsworth. “I scraped up whatever opportunity I could and made a point to learn from it.”
To advance her career in the industry, Hollandsworth rolled up her sleeves and earned an MBA in two years while also managing restaurants. She eventually worked her way up to become a Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Operations Services before making the move to Dunkin’.
“When I was interviewing with Dunkin’, I was very interested in the culture of the brand,” Hollandsworth said. “I believe the lifeline of an organization is its culture, and I knew from the very beginning that the people and culture at Dunkin’ were special.”
In 2019, Hollandsworth joined Dunkin’ as the Vice President of Dunkin’ (West Region), where she supports Dunkin’ restaurants in 12 states and leads a team of three directors and 15 managers.
As a leader, Hollandsworth thrives on building teams and makes it a point to get to know her direct reports in order to leverage their strengths.
“I lead by empowering my team members, making sure they’re heard,” Hollandsworth said. “I like to hear different perspectives, because I believe that if we hear everyone’s perspective we’ll be able to come up with better decisions for the brand. It also allows people to feel like they’re a part of something big, to feel included.”
Hollandsworth values hard work and recognition, but believes in order to get the most of your career, it requires finding your purpose.
“Looking back at everything that I’ve learned through my personal triumphs and failures, what matters the most is discovering what drives you to live a life that has purpose,” Hollandsworth said. “For me, it’s people development. That’s really what I’m most passionate about and a big part of how I got to where I am now.”
For Hollandsworth, her path up the corporate ladder and leading with a people-first mentality began with this advice:
- Invest in your personal brand and be authentic and true to yourself.
- Find a mentor – someone that will advocate for you.
- Find work-life balance. People are the most important part of an organization, and it’s important that those people are not taken for granted.
- Kindness goes a long way. Treat people with respect. Small gestures can make people feel valued and worthy.
- Surround yourself with good people you can learn from.
- Greatness is a choice.
With Inspire’s acquisition of Dunkin’, Hollandsworth’s looking forward to more growth opportunities for her team.
“In my opinion, for an organization to continue to improve, there needs to be good people development and support,” she said. I’m looking forward to helping provide opportunities for my directors and managers.”
To learn more about career opportunities at Inspire, go to careers.inspirebrands.com.