Rewards Network is not only dedicated to helping restaurants succeed, but also to helping employees grow in their careers. As someone with an appetite for both food and finance, Gerritt Schuitema used his restaurant experience and analytical skills to get his foot in the door at Rewards Network. With hard work, this door opened to new opportunities in the company, leading to his role as a financial analyst.
For the latest installment of our Employee Spotlight series, Gerritt shared his experience of finding his right career path at Rewards Network and expressed appreciation for those who helped him along the way.
What do you do at Rewards Network?
I am a Senior Financial Analyst. Typically, I start off each day catching up on what happened to a few of the key metrics for our business via email while still in bed. This helps me to start thinking about what changed from yesterday, and what may (or may not) be an issue worth looking into.
Once I get in, I power up the laptop and get a coffee, I’ll need at least one! After that, I dig in, typically working on any forecasting and budgeting we may be doing, running data and analysis to answer questions from all over the company, whether from account executives out in the field all the way to board members. The scope is rather large, so every day is something new and challenging, and it provides a wonderful opportunity to always be growing and learning.
I have been with the company for almost five years. I started at RN in the Operations department thanks to Karen Klimcak and Therese Lindsey giving me my first corporate opportunity! Thanks, you two! Since then, it has been quite a ride!
What motivated you to get into the restaurant industry?
Bottom line, the job market for financial analysts in 2010 was, well… not good for someone fresh out of college. I remember applying to a position as the 8th applicant, and about 12 hours later there were over 20,000! This motivated me to humble myself outside of my degree specialization and just try to get in anywhere in any position I could!
When interviewing, I actually had -0- information about who the company was or what kind of business they operated in. Providence, however, had a plan and little did I know that talking about my own personal thoughts and experience would put me in a perfect position to be hired.
See, before I came here, I was managing a kitchen for an Italian Restaurant named Puccini’s in West Lafayette, Indiana, and all I had ever known or worked in was the restaurant industry. From 16 up, I worked in the restaurant industry and came to be convinced that eating out is the only true American culture. Who knew that would fit well in an interview for RN?!
Anyway, after it all, I got to start in Operations and had a blast! I got to learn a lot and develop a lot of critical abilities, had a great manager, and got to really understand the operational side of the business. It turned out to be an amazing foundation for moving over to the finance department!
So, you moved up!
Yes! I got to start off in Operations under Karen Klimcak where I learned a ton about the inner workings, process and procedure, and got pretty familiar with some of the sales account executives, regional managers, and the due diligence team. I was encouraged to really branch out and learn what I could, and I took advantage everywhere I had the time!
And as again providence would have it, an opportunity was presented to me to interview for an associate role on the finance team, and I jumped at it! With the blessing of Karen, I interviewed, and was hired into the role which I had hoped for all while in college! It has been quite a ride!
What is your favorite part of working at Rewards Network?
This one is hard, but there is a clear winner.
My favorite part of working at this company is the great privilege to work closely with and learn from the directors and senior leaders of RN who are always open to talk with and learn from. We have an awesome leadership team, and truly dedicated and hard-working executives. Getting to work alongside them, learn from them, and help them has had a profound impact on my professional growth and business acumen. Next to this would fall more typical items, like work/life balance and flexibility, and an environment that really fosters learning for those who desire to do so. I really enjoy the overall culture and team effort that seems to reverberate throughout the departments and people I have had the privilege to work with.
Do you have any favorite restaurants?
Truth be told, after doing it for a lot of my young adult life, I enjoy to cook for myself, and typically enjoy something my wife or I have cooked as opposed to going out. Something about that home-cooked meal gets me every time! If I am going out, you can probably find me at House of Kobi for some steak, chicken, and some sushi rolls on the side, or Aurelio’s for my favorite pizza!
What is your favorite food or beverage?
This one is easy: pizza! I found working in an Italian restaurant suited me quite well. I love pizza and breadsticks, and I love to make Alfredo sauce for the breadsticks and pizza crust! Aside from Italian (which is clearly my favorite category), I very much enjoy all types of food, whether it is an American Pub burger, Southern BBQ, Indian or Thai! All is to be received with thanksgiving!
In terms of cocktail or beverage, I prefer water over most items. Something about the pure and simple taste, just tastes like ‘life.’ But every now and then, you could catch me having something sweeter, like Disaronno on the rocks.
What do you do for fun when you’re not at work?
I like to hang out with my best friend and wife, Missy. We are pretty similar, so we play a lot of games together and just kind of relax. We love to play with our two dogs and take them for walks, hug them, basically just love on them. I very much enjoy getting together with my brothers and sisters in the faith to pray for grace, study what has been revealed, and encourage and build each other up!
If you could do any job, what would it be, and why?
If I could do anything, I am not sure what that might be. I very much like what I am doing, and wouldn’t want to change the corporate path I am on. If it is a question of what I would do if I did not need to work for money, I would either want to be a missionary with my wife or devote all that time to helping the homeless and poor (especially in the winter around Chicago as the winters can be quite brutal). It brings me great joy to be around and encourage other brothers and sisters in the faith.
Any other details you’d like to share? Inquiring minds want to know!
Overall, I am a pretty basic guy. I have been given much more than I deserve, and I do not plan on taking it for granted. There are really only three things that take up my time, talent, and treasure. First is my devotion to Jesus, next is pouring out my life for my wife and her edification, and lastly, being a good steward of the amazing career I have been given. I love the bible, and old Christian literature like Pilgrims Progress. I like to play board games a lot too! Especially Risk and Sorry!
Want to get to know more of the Rewards Network team? Check here for more interviews with our staff: