In the thick of the pandemic, Sanjiv Razdan recognized a glaring need for restaurant leaders: mentorship. A LinkedIn post and tidal wave of support later, he launched GLEAM Network.


When the pandemic started wreaking havoc, all of a sudden I had all this time on my hands. This was something that I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time: figure out how to help people at scale along their leadership journeys. And I thought, well, this is as good a time as any. That is what led to a LinkedIn post that I put out there, essentially seeking other like-minded folks from our industry. And that led to about 35,000 views and a ton of support.

Quite a bit of the mentoring has been about COVID. When I have to blow up my entire marketing plan and start fresh, or I’ve got to redo my business plan or financial numbers, or I need to engage my team when everybody is virtual, or I’m starting a new role—can someone help me? But it’s also leading to the need for functional expertise-building.

In the old days, Procter & Gamble, Gillette, and those kinds of companies used to have very robust programs that embellished their executives with leadership development. With the restaurant industry, we’ve had much more skill-based training and then very little else. That gap is not going away; it’s not that this leadership development is not accessible, but it’s accessible for a price. It’s become cost-prohibitive. If you look at attending a day’s workshop or seeking an external mentor or a coach, that’s hundreds of dollars, often thousands of dollars. The need for that development is universal. And if anything, it’s just going to grow.

The generation that is in the process of dealing with the COVID crisis, in the fast-casual space particularly, is going through the school of hard knocks in a way that perhaps no other generation has had the opportunity to go through. It’s almost like things that people [usually] take four or five years to pick up, folks are being able to pick up in a very, very short span of time.

I think you emerge from this, if you have the right mentor, with this amazing ability to be a phenomenal leader that is in tune with your people. You’re in tune with changing consumer needs, you’ve leapfrogged the whole digital adoption process, and you understand how to run a P&L that’s extremely tight. It’s forcing you to think about your operating model differently. I think you come out of this with the skills that not only elevate you as a leader on a personal level, but also the business savviness to foresee changes and adapt your business model to be effective in that environment.

What is GLEAM?
The Global Leadership Enhancement And Mentorship network is a volunteer-based nonprofit organization supporting leaders in the foodservice industry by providing mentorship and leadership development.

Razdan’s previous positions:
• COO, Sweetgreen
• SVP & COO, Applebee’s
• President, Pizza Hut India

Razdan’s mentors:
• Julia Stewart, Former CEO, DineEquity:
“ She understood what it means to care for people and had this balance of compassion and accountability.”
• Niren Chaudhary, CEO, Panera Bread:
“ He really helped me understand how to build great teams, how to instill and scale culture, and he had this ability to teach concepts using simple frameworks.”

How to get involved:
Visit if you’d like to serve as a voluntary mentor or if you’re interested in mentorship.

Expert Takes, Feature, Labor & Employees