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Carolyn Tandy is the 2019 Most Admired Woman winner in the Corporate category. Photo by Melissa Donald
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Diversity & Inclusion Director, Texas Roadhouse
Children: Kennedy, Avery, and Solomon
Area of town: East End
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It doesn’t take too long to pick up on Carolyn Tandy’s innate relatability, her way of making others feel comfortable and at ease. Through her many years in government, and now in the corporate world, she brings both empathy and resourcefulness to her role. Whether she is working with colleagues at Texas Roadhouse or her children, she is focused on staying present, empowering others, and remaining grateful.
What motivates you?
My family more than anything. My mom was a single parent, and she really sacrificed a lot for me. I don’t think I realized that. She worked hard as a domestic and took care of people’s kids. With my family, it’s important to me that my kids see what it’s like, the same way I did, to have a strong mom, a strong wife, a strong caregiver. I try to motivate the girls to see what it means to have a strong female in the house and what they should emulate.
What is the best thing about your job?
The people. I have met some amazing people. We have 60,000 employees and daily I’m getting notes of encouragement, text messages, and Facebook posts. I would not be in this seat without them, I guarantee that. They look out for their “Roadies.” We talk about Roadhouse being a family, and it was hard for me to conceptualize “family” in an organization of 60,000 people, but we really succeed at that.
What is challenging about your job?
I am responsible for change. Change is really hard, particularly in an organization that’s successful. We should not be looking outward to what other folks are doing; we should set our own bar. We have to think about what our footprint looks like in the world, and it’s bigger than just good food. It’s also about being a reflection of the communities we serve.
What adventure is on your bucket list?
Places like Bali and Polynesia.
Is what you’re doing now what you expected to be doing when you dreamed as a kid or young woman?
My life has emulated the work I’m doing. Straight out of college, public service was, at its core, what I did in Washington. For my birthday in January, my mom gave me a present. It was an article they wrote on me in college around diversity and inclusion and why they were important to me.
The school I went to was not very diverse, but I went to a conference. There were people from all walks of life. All colors, all nationalities, and all ages. It was this whole different world of collaboration because you had individuals that were able to engage in a way on subjects that some folks never have exposure to. It opened up a dialogue that was very different.
When I think about where I am that is exactly what I’m doing. My responsibility is to make sure our workforce is a reflection of the communities we serve. But it’s also making sure the folks who are here have an opportunity to dialogue and dream and come with new ideas together, bringing their full selves and being respectful of the person sitting across from them, too. How much more collaborative and amazing can we be if we can huddle together and dream big?
What are some indulgences you allow yourself as a way to relax?
I love reality TV. The trashier the better.
What is your favorite food on the Texas Roadhouse menu?
Rattlesnake Bites. They’re almost like a jalapeno popper but better. They’re so stinking good.
When you don’t go to Texas Roadhouse to eat, where do you like to go?
Havana Rumba. My mom is from Jamaica so it’s the closest thing for me to Caribbean food, plus the drinks are amazing. And Simply Thai.
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