Fall is approaching, and so is the upcoming Louisiana football season.
Alumna Haley Miller is diving into the restaurant industry—one Big Mac at a time. Miller '18 recently became one of the youngest approved McDonald's owner-operators in the country. The McDonald's brand has been in her family for generations. In 1982, her grandparents opened up their first McDonald's franchise in Abbeville, Louisiana. Since then, the family business has grown to 10 McDonald's restaurants in the Acadiana area, all under Miller Management. As Miller steps into this new role within the family business, she hopes to continue her grandparents' legacy that began so many years ago.
Originally from New Iberia, Miller attended Tulane University, where she studied psychology. "I was always interested in psychology and people, so I started with that," said Miller. Not only was Miller involved with her studies, but she was also a pole vaulter for Tulane's track team. Throughout Miller's undergraduate career, she never considered working in her family's restaurant business until she started working at a local restaurant herself.
"I realized how much psychology you use in business. The backbone of your business is people—figuring out what motivates them while trying to develop a unified team," said Miller. After talking with her parents about joining their McDonald's organization, they recommended getting some business experience under her belt. Miller decided to attend UL Lafayette to get her MBA while working full-time with her family in their McDonald's restaurants. From there, she realized that a career with McDonald's could combine her love of psychology with the business world.
Since her classes at UL Lafayette were mainly in the evening, Miller balanced learning about business while getting hands-on experience in the field. Before becoming a certified owner-operator of McDonald's, she needed to immerse herself in the restaurant's operations. "I went in and learned every position," said Miller. The process also included taking classes from McDonald's headquarters in Chicago, providing reports on her restaurants, and proving that she was capable of running a successful McDonald's franchise. After years of time and commitment, Miller achieved two of her dreams—graduate with her MBA from UL Lafayette and become an approved McDonald's owner-operator.
As she begins this next phase in her career, Miller wants to make her family's restaurants the best that they can be. She also wants to make a significant impact in the communities that they serve. "Our customers are local and our employees are local, so we try and do as much as we can in the community," said Miller. Her involvement with the McDonald's brand spans beyond the storefront as well. Miller is a member of several organizations within the McDonald's system, including the Women's Operator Network, the South Louisiana Regional McDonald's Co-Op Economics Team, and she serves on the Board of Directors for the Southern Louisiana Chapter of the Ronald McDonald House Charities. Miller is focused on building up her community while also growing as a leader in the restaurant industry.
The lessons that Miller learned throughout her time at UL Lafayette have been instrumental to the success of her career so far. She was able to network with other like-minded professionals while also bringing the skills she learned in the classroom straight into her restaurants. However, the lessons she's learned from her family about the dedication it takes to run a successful business have truly motivated her to become a leader in her community and within the McDonald's organization.
Photo Caption: Haley Miller Photo Credit: Penny Ivey