The Right Answer

CAREER SPOTLIGHT: Madeleine Bell (BSM ’17)

In the spring of her senior year, Madeleine Bell (BSM ’17) landed a highly coveted job interview with Restaurant Brands International, the parent company of Burger King, Tim Hortons and Popeyes. Her interviewer? None other than Jose Cil (A&S ’91), president of Burger King, who was on the Tulane campus for Career Wave, the university’s annual career event.

Bell fielded rapid-fire questions on a dizzying variety of topics — everything from how many credit cards there are in Texas to how she’d get everyone out of the building in the event of a fire — and impressed Cil enough with her answers to make it to the
next round.

Ultimately, she went through five rounds of interviews with RBI executives and managers, culminating in a final all-or-nothing interview with Josh Kobza, RBI’s chief financial officer. A few minutes into that interview, Kobza gave her a scenario: “Let’s say I give you $1 million,” he said. “How do you double it in a year?”

Bell thought for a moment. “I’d take out a life insurance policy on myself and then fake my death,” she said.

For a moment there was a dead silence. And then Kobza broke out into laughter. “Now that’s an answer I’ve never heard before,” he chuckled.

“It was a very risky answer, but I was trying to think outside the box,” recalls Bell, who went on to give a more serious answer. “He wasn’t looking for cookie-cutter responses. He was looking for personality, for people that think very differently and can take unique approaches to different problems.”

Bell’s gambit paid off. RBI offered her a spot in its highly competitive rotational program. After completing her rotations with Tim Hortons and Burger King, Bell was appointed senior analyst for global operations strategy for Popeyes, where she combines operations analytics with her communications background to determine the operational execution and guest experience strategy for over 2,600 restaurants around the globe.

What advice does Bell have for students hoping to follow in her footsteps?

“Practice interviewing so much that it makes you crazy,” she laughs.

Bell credits Leonard Williams, director of the Freeman School’s Career Management Center, with helping her to prepare for RBI’s case study interviews and the CMC’s career development course with helping her to tweak her resume, polish her LinkedIn profile and master her elevator pitch.

“By my senior year, I felt very prepared for interviews and very confident in my personal branding,” she says. “I couldn’t have done that without the CMC.”

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