Trevecca grad named interim chief financial officer

By Audrey Yawn

An audit, a new food service provider, and two remodels; this summer presented a set of unique and pressing situations for Mariano Monzu to step into as the unverisity’s interim chief financial officer.

A close partner to former CFO, David Caldwell, Monzu was appointed as interim CFO by President Dan Boone at the end of June.

Caldwell served as the university’s chief financial officer for more than nine years.

Boone chose Monzu based on his familiarity with Caldwell’s work and experience, he said. “Summer is the time Trevecca does its audit,” said Boone. “You would never try to bring a new CFO into the beginning of an audit… Mariano has a backbone; you have to be able to say, ‘No, that’s not in the budget.’”

Monzu said it’s been an easy adjustment after seven years of working with Caldwell.

“[The job] is perfect and the reason why is I knew pretty much everyone I worked with,” he said. “I’m not new to it.”

For now, his title includes interim.

“I believe he would be a lead candidate if we put the job out there,” Boone said.

Monzu already has favorite parts of his job in the two months of being CFO.

“You get involved in so much and I love that. I like doing busy,” said Monzu. “You get busy pretty quick. You get pulled into different things. You get pulled into little things.”

There are less than desirable parts of the job for Monzu too.

“What I don’t like is I have a lot of meetings,” said Monzu. “You have a lot of stuff to do and not a lot of time to do it.”

Boone said Monzu is a great fit because he brings with him many of the same aspects that Caldwell applied to his work.

“[Monzu] is a phenomenal accountant… but most accountants are not good at financial strategy, and David Caldwell was very good at financial strategy,” said Boone. “We saw that Mariano had that same skill set.”

Monzu isn’t always focused on numbers and finances. He spends his free time playing soccer, which is what brought him to Trevecca when he was a college student.

“I played soccer here a long time ago,” said Monzu. “If you go to [Moore] you’ll see my picture in there.”

Boone also attests to his soccer abilities and how that opened up a chance for him to grow at Trevecca.

“The thing that I love most about him is that he came here to play soccer. While he was here his heart opened up to God and he began to see the value of deep Christian faith,” said Boone. “He still plays soccer a lot. He is an avid soccer player and fan.”

Monzu never thought about coming to work for Trevecca until the opportunity presented itself.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do [in college]. I wasn’t even planning on staying in the States. I wanted to travel, go to Europe. But two years became four and it just worked out,” said Monzu. “I went away for a while but I came back. I was looking for a challenge before the job came up.”

Overall, Boone said Monzu has been performing excellently in carrying out the vision of Trevecca and helping keep student costs to a minimum in the overseeing of financial plans.

“He is the primary strategist for getting money in the door,” said Boone. “He’s a very frugal person.”

For the duration of his time as CFO, Monzu is committed to keeping up the work of his predecessor.

“First I’m trying to learn the role,” said Monzu. “When you get into a new role you try to learn it. Pretty much I’m keeping up what David was working on.”

Boone said that’s exactly what he hoped for when he named Monzu interim CFO.

“One of the things I hope is that he is able to keep Trevecca on the path and trajectory that was under David Caldwell,” said Boone. “He’s performing excellently. I shudder to think where we would be without him.”

Trevecca welcomes new dining services director

By Naomi Overby

Matt Highley’s journey to the culinary world received its motivation to start at age 15 after he was told he wouldn’t make it.

At 19 years old, he was named the executive chef of Appleby’s Cafe & Wine Cellar.

“I love to cook. Love the chef life,” Highley said. “When I was 15, I worked at Sonic Drive-In. I remember saying ‘I want to try to be a chef one day’, and my manager told me ‘You’ll never be a chef.’ So, I left Sonic, got into a real restaurant and stayed there until I went to culinary school. All it took was someone telling me I wasn’t going to do it.”

Today, Highley is working to transform a new setting: Trevecca’s. Just last month, Highley began working as the new director of dining services under Chartwells, Trevecca’s first new food service provider in 45 years.

“Matt coming in, he’s got a plethora of experience he’s willing to offer between managerial experience and being a chef himself,” Logan Rodgers, assistant director of dining services said. “He’s got a servant leadership style. He just walks alongside people and wants to get involved in everything.”

Together with the Chartwells staff, Highley’s responsibility ranges from meetings, to planning and implementing new installments in the cafeteria to overseeing any food service location on campus. New additions to the cafeteria that students will begin to see are a direct result of Highley’s work.

Just before coming to campus, Highley worked as part of an operational excellence team, opening up new businesses for Compass Group USA across the nation, He applied for the job at Trevecca to be at home more with his wife and two daughters.

After receiving an associate of science from Sullivan University, a culinary arts school in Louisville, Ky., Highley has held other executive chef titles at fine dining private restaurants, and later stepping into thecorporate side of the culinary industry at 26-years-old.

Much like the kitchen, Highley’s schedule can be hectic and spontaneous. At any given time of the day, he could be throwing on a chef’s coat to lend the kitchen staff a hand, assisting in inputting time clock stamps when the system malfunctions, or printing labels for grab-and-go meals.

His typical day begins at 6 a.m. to greet vendors and team members coming in, and he spends the rest of his day rotating between the Cube, the Hub, the 1901 locations, the dining hall, and his office.

“He wants to be extremely involved. If there’s any opportunity for him to step in and do something, he will. He won’t delegate something that he could do himself,” said Katie Wreyford, manager of 1901. “That to me shows in all kinds of different moments. He sees the bigger picture of what service looks like.”

When he asks employees how they are, he checks the body language and demeanor of his employees, knowing he most likely won’t get an honest response, Highley says.

“I’ll hang out around here a little longer and wait for my moment to strike. I’ll catch them and say ‘You sure you’re alright?’ and they’ll say ‘No, I’m good’ and I’ll break the ice, like, ‘I didn’t catch you as a liar,” Highley said.

Highley’s transition into Trevecca was being mindful of the culture, adjusting to company values, and learning what’s important to Trevecca, he said. He had experience working as a senior executive chef at Belmont, so he was familiar with a university setting.

“That’s where I first got introduced into universities. I fell in love with it. Absolutely love the interaction with the students, the drive behind them, just the way they operate, the new generation. It’s a lot of fun,” said Highley.

Moving forward, the cafeteria will continue to see updates and changes. Highley already had employees remove the old ice cream cooler and is in the process of securing a soft-serve machine to replace it.

“I didn’t say anything. I did it on a Sunday, had my guys pull [the cooler] out. One day all of a sudden there’ll just be a big soft serve machine there,” said Highley. “That’s the way I roll. I quietly change the world.”