Q&A with Joanne MacTaggart

We chat with the vice president of internal development for Moxie's Grill & Bar 


Shortly after moving to Calgary from Vancouver, Joanne MacTaggart took on the new position as HR and training manager at the Moxie’s Grill & Bar chain. With only 18 restaurants in the chain at the time, mostly in Alberta, it was a great opportunity to work at an up-and-coming company. 

Fast-forward 21 years. There are now 63 Moxie’s across the country, and eight people doing her original job. Now serving as VP of Internal Development, MacTaggart oversees the “millions of details” that keep the chain current. “My job is all about developing new initiatives. I take an idea that somebody has or a need that has been reported and create a new system, be it a software program or the introduction of new cutlery. I develop the program, test it, make sure it’s financially feasible and then hand it off to operations,” says MacTaggart. “It all has to be put into a business flow that works.”

After moving to North Coquitlam, B.C., late last year, MacTaggart commutes every other week to Calgary. Her best advice for any commuter is to keep your baggage light and to use your travel time wisely.

“I have to be very organized,” she says, “and time everything out to streamline my commute. A conference call will be made during the drive to the airport, then last-minute emails are downloaded to a tablet at the gate to work on while I’m in-flight.”

What’s your favourite airport?

I always fly through Abbotsford, [B.C.]. I like how small it is and easy to navigate.

What’s in your luggage?

My carry-on has a few work files, two outfits and my runners. I never travel without my favourite runners.

What’s the best thing thing about working at Moxie’s?

This industry attracts very colourful people who are vibrant and full of ideas. That enthusiasm ripples down right from the head office into every restaurant and then back up.

Favourite meal at Moxie’s?

Part of my job is testing new menu items or tasting the tweaks to items [already] on the menu, so I seem to spend a lot of time nibbling all sorts of delicious food. But my go-to meal for lunch is always the seared ginger tuna salad. I probably have it three or four days each week. 

Best tips for the flying commuter?

Create a ritual that is easy and simple. Have a few tasks to accomplish at the airport and en route and stick to them. And keep the outfits simple.

What advice do you have for someone considering a career in hospitality?

Know yourself. To be successful in this industry it is critical to be the sort of person who generates and inspires energy with and through other people.