From hiring to mentorship, we are always supporting women in our workplace. In fact, we were recently recognized as a Top Franchise for Women by Franchise Business Review based on our leadership, training and core values.
Over the years, the franchise industry has been dominated by women. Today, 29% of all franchisees are solely women-owned and 32% of franchises open in the last 24 months are led by women.
We strive to create a positive company culture empowered by women. At Pizza Factory, you’ll see female leaders thrive at every stage of our business, from franchisee to CEO.
With strong female leadership at our base, we sat down with CEO Mary Jane Riva and multi-unit franchisee Allision Williams to discuss their path to entrepreneurship and how Pizza Factory fits the bill for a strong female-led company.
Have there been any moments in your career where a female mentor helped guide your path?
Mary Jane: “My first job was in a woman-owned donut shop. The women I worked with were some of the hardest workers I’ve ever known. With that strong foundation, I’ve tried to set the same standard for our company,” Riva said.
Allison: “My journey with Pizza Factory started working for MJ when I was 15. She really taught and showed me what it takes to own and run a store. I always felt Pizza Factory empowered their employees, regardless of gender, to work from the ground up, and one day own their own franchise.”
Mary Jane: “Yes, I’ve worked with Allison since she was a teenager and immediately recognized her drive for success and dedication for the brand,” said Pizza Factory CEO Mary Jane Riva. “Allison has proven herself as not only a trusted employee but also an awesome franchise operator. After she seamlessly established the Twain Harte restaurant as a community staple, I knew she was the right person to oversee the transition with the San Andreas location. With a customer-base already established and under Allison’s guidance, I’m confident restaurant’s success will continue.”
What led you to a career in franchising?
Mary Jane: “I operated my own donut shop called MJ’s Donuts when I was 20-years-old. I always knew I wanted to be self-employed, and my sister and brother owned Pizza Factory franchises. That’s how I began my franchise career with my husband in 1990.”
Allison: “I love everything about Pizza Factory and expanding my portfolio with the brand was an easy decision,” said Williams. “With innovation constantly on our minds at Pizza Factory, I saw an opportunity to take over an existing location that has already established itself within its community. Plus, I’ve seen firsthand how much support and guidance the corporate team provides. They’re truly invested in your growth, both personally and professionally.”
As a female CEO, what advice would you give young women looking to start a career in the business/ franchising sectors?
Mary Jane: “It’s important to surround yourself with good people who support you and will be honest. Never stop learning, listening, and going after your goals, regardless of how hard they are. At the same time, embrace mentors with skillsets in areas that you are weak. Be yourself, but grow into better versions of you. Be strong, but be kind, even if others aren’t, and most importantly take care of yourself on your journey.”
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