Get behind the counter with Rice’s SRB GMs


Katherine Hui / Drummer

By Allison He 05/10/22 00:01

Whether it’s grabbing a caffeine fix, a late-night dinner, or fixing their bikes, Rice students are undoubtedly familiar with many student-run businesses on campus. What students often don’t see, however, is behind the scenes of the SRBs – a general manager fixing the credit card machine or ensuring the return of oat milk supplies.

But SRB general managers have responsibilities that go beyond equipment malfunctions and problems with suppliers. According to Rice Bikes general manager Diego Casanova, his role as general manager is to create long-term goals for the company, guide managers and keep track of finances.

“If I wanted to divide [general manager responsibilities] in three categories, it would be: long-term management of the company, guiding and assisting other managers and finance [as] the part that is exclusive to the position of general manager,” said Casanova, a senior from Martel College.

Theo Vadot, chief executive of The Hoot, said he acted as a liaison between administration and The Hoot managers, communicated with vendors and handled in-store emergencies.

“I’m the liaison between the administrative side and our managerial side,” said Vadot, a senior at Jones College. “I help advise my order manager on obligations to our suppliers, I communicate with suppliers alongside my order manager, I organize meetings, I write a lot of emails and if there is has a crisis in store, I get up.”

Vadot said he likes the unpredictability of his work.

“One of the things that I kinda appreciate, weirdly, is that you never know what’s going to happen at any given time,” Vadot said.

Like Vadot, Jinhee Shin, general manager of Rice Coffeehouse, said she was notified of various in-store emergencies.

“Emergencies don’t necessarily always involve me directly, but I’m always kept informed [the] loop,” said Shin, a Martel senior. “It can be something as simple as a delivery that doesn’t show up…a [Keeper of Coffee] test positive for COVID…weather emergencies…or the [Rice Memorial Center] construction delay. »

Shin said time management is his best tool for juggling responsibilities. Often, this can involve creating time specifically dedicated to not thinking about your job.

“I always try to have some flexibility in my schedule so I can deal with emergencies,” Shin said. “I also have scheduled block time where I try not to focus on Coffeehouse unless there are emergencies.”

Vadot said when academics need priority, he turns to his managers for help.

“As an architecture major, there are times in the semester when I have to work [on school]and in those times, I usually delegate [tasks to] my other managers,” Vadot said. “They really help me guide the rest of the employees as a whole. I can always count on them if I don’t have time.

Emma Yang, chief executive of East West, said the role of chief executive was unroutine. While Yang finds this lack of structure difficult, she said she also appreciates the realism of the work and the contrast it brings to her daily life.

“It’s an unstructured job, being a general manager. It’s something I warn people about – you’re not going to have a routine – but in some ways it’s fine for a pre-med student of Rice to have that role and go with the flow,” said Yang, a Baker College alumnus. . “I’m very nervous, so I want to follow the schedule. But that’s not how life works.

During his work at Rice Bikes, Casanova said his diagnostic approach to repairs and his leadership abilities prepared him for a career as a doctor.

“You have this mental library of knowledge about a certain condition or repair, and you have to apply it with a diagnostic mindset to whatever you’re trying to fix and make a fix that allows that item to be repaired from permanently,” Casanova said. “GM’s position is [also] super important in the attributes that [being a physician] requires because you have to be a communicator… and know when and how to take and give direction.

In line with that sentiment, Vadot said he would recommend joining a student-run company for the learning opportunities the role offers.

“I want to encourage people to apply for positions because SRBs are a fun way to run a business as students,” Vadot said. “When you apply for the job of manager, you might not know how something is going to work, but suddenly you learn so many new things.”

While Casanova loves his job, he said his colleagues at Rice Bikes are what make his experience worthwhile.

“I love bikes, but I also really prefer the people there over bikes,” Casanova said. “It could be any other job, but really the culture we have and the level of mechanics and the kind of people we’re trying to hire are people you want to be with.”


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