“I created a network of peers that I know I can rely on whenever I need help”

Manuel Estrada

I began my career at Northgate in 2013 while also attending Cal State Fullerton. I learned about the Tortilleria Clerk role while shopping at Northgate. I needed a job that would allow me to go to school full time, while working full time. I began at our Pacific Avenue, Long Beach location as a Tortilleria Clerk and in 2015, upon graduating, I was then promoted to Tortilleria PM Manager. I was promoted and also nominated to attend the store manager fast track which at the time helped associates be familiarized with all aspects of the business. While in my role and fast track program I learned a lot and in 2016 was able to be promoted to Tortilleria AM Manager.

Shortly after I was promoted to 2nd assistant to the Cherry Avenue Long Beach location and then moved to our Harbor Boulevard Santa Ana location where the store manager there invested time in me to “show me the ropes.” One of the key takeaways I took from her was to “always be humble and have my own standard of doing things.”

I was then moved to the Culver City location and within a short time the store manager gave me full control of many aspects of the store. I am very grateful for that, given I was able to learn a lot and my store was able to achieve many milestones such as one year without accidents among other things. I believe this store established my path at Northgate and helped me grow the most.

I was then nominated for the Cal State Fullerton Effective Management Program where I formed long lasting relationships and partnerships I use to this day. While in the program I learned the value of networking and establishing relationships with peers. I created a network of peers that I know I can rely on whenever I need help. While at Northgate I have learned that, “you can grow, and you know you have support of others as well as form a network of support that will not only give support for constant constructive feedback.”

After the Cal State Fullerton Effective Management Program, I moved to the Paramount location where I was able to form an incredible team and learned the importance of creating alignment, being positive and having continuous improvement with associates. A lesson I learned from the store manager that has had a lasting effect. My store manager always says, “make a difference today, do not leave anything for tomorrow.”

While at this store I was then nominated to the USC Food Industry Management Certificate. The University of Southern California, Food Industry Management Certificate is a prestigious program designed exclusively for grooming the industry’s high-potential future leaders. Each year, a maximum of 35 executives are chosen from a wide range of companies in the food industry to participate in the elite 16-week certificate program. Each executive accepted into the program receives a full-tuition scholarship through the Western Association of Food Chains (WAFC). Individuals selected must have a proven record of management accomplishments and significant potential for future advancement. My biggest takeaway from this program is to “always keep learning and always see things from a different perspective.”

I graduated from the USC Food Industry Management program and was promoted to Assistant Store Team Leader, leading our newest store opening in South Gate and making a difference with the community and the associates of this location.

Lastly, I was asked what I would tell a new associate I would say, “be open minded and know that Northgate prepares you for any role you will have in the future. Northgate teaches you skills such as people skills which will pay off in the future.”