Ma Chao: Starbucks Baker, Confident “Craftsman”
“For lots of other urban young men like you, it is probably the time to go home after relaxing themselves at 2 o’clock early in the morning. How do you feel when you go out to work at this time?”
” It’s just fast because there is no traffic jam, ” Ma Chao answered without hesitation, which is surprising because of his slight sense of humor.
As one of the 9th batch students at Shanghai Young Bakers, Ma Chao learned that Starbucks is going to open its first Starbucks Reserve Roastery outside Seattle at the job fair hosted by SYB. He thought that it’s a great job opportunity and decided to try his chances. Ma Chao entered the Starbucks factory in October 2017. Two months later, he was assigned to the Starbucks’ largest store in the world and take part in bread baking.
Ma Chao and his classmates at their graduation ceremony
I don’t go out for fun even when I’m off
The store operates from 7 am to 11 pm. Bakers like Ma Chao have to work in different shifts, morning shift is from 3 am to 12 noon and night shift is from 2: 30 pm to 11: 30 pm. In terms of time, Ma Chao’s work is a bit similar to that of an international flight pilot since he needs to constantly adjust his schedule of work and rest. “I don’t even dare to go out for fun during the day off before the next work shift because I need the time to adjust the schedule of work and rest. ” Ma Chao said.
As one of the first batch of bakers working at Starbucks’ largest store in the world, how was Ma Chao’s normal day at work like?
Ma Chao making bread
The products Ma Chao is responsible for include semi-finished products (used to make soft bread) and finished bread (hard bread like the baguette). Take semi-finished bread as an example, the dough was prepared in the factory and then transported to the store, where it would go through the process of fermentation and baking. Ma Chao could then present the customers well-structured and well-tasted croissant, one of the best breakfast companions. To make guests feel the softness and the temperature of the bread in the morning and enjoy the butter fragrance of bread at 7 am, Ma Chao will have to arrive at the store at 3 am and start processing the dough prepared by his night shift colleague.
I feel the pride of working here
Apart from the coffee section and baking section, Starbucks Reserve Roastery also has wine, tea, and gift sections, with an area of 2787 square meters and a total of two floors, which Starbucks described as “the most magnificent project ever” and attracted curiosity. Breakfast preparation is the busiest work in the morning. “At the beginning of the opening, people lined up at 5 to 6 am. If you looked out of the glass wall, the whole road was full of people. I feel the pride of working here. Despite the hard work in the morning, the products were sold out soon after the guests arrived, and more orders were added during the New Year. It is so hard to look after all bread I made and if they are not able to meet the standard, pictures will be posted in our work group and our boss will criticize. “
Lines outside Starbucks Reserve Roastery
” Do you have any plan for working with Starbucks? “
” I believe it is better to focus on being familiar with the products I am responsible for first, and then learn the workflow and system of Starbucks. Currently, I am doing well with the products and my barista colleagues will also teach me a little knowledge of coffee when it is not that busy”
I have to take more responsibilities
“Comparing with your previous internship at Mandarin Oriental Mandarin Hotel, do you feel any difference? “”I have to take more responsibilities here. At the beginning of my internship, I was silly. On the second day I asked my co-worker what we are going to do today, he answered that it was the same as yesterday. On the first day, I clearly remembered to put my notebook in my backpack, but I couldn’t find it. The next day, I couldn’t remember what I did on the first day, so I had to ask them to show me everything again. After that, I brought my own notebook and take notes whenever I need”
“Many said that you should pay more attention and learn everything you can at your internship. How do you define ‘paying attention to’ ?”
“I have to familiarize myself better with the workflow as quickly as possible, and then efficiently and effectively execute the duties.
A while after I started as an intern, my supervisor saw me doing well and he gradually started to teach me something else and sometimes left me alone on duty all day with some simple things to do. “
Ma Chao with his colleagues and supervisor
From a person who has no idea of how to respond to the foreign chef at Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Ma Chao has gradually learned how to communicate with his supervisor at Starbucks now. “I trust him to take charge in managing stores while I can focus on other work in the office”, his supervisor recognized Ma Chao’s capabilities. It shows the starting point and future of Ma Chao on the timeline of SYB.
In his hometown of Baoji, Ma Chao learned about SYB‘s program through the charity organization that funds when he was under the age of 17 (which is just the starting age for enrolling students in the program). When he graduated from secondary school, his grades were not good, so he dropped out and worked as a waiter until he turned 17. “I came to SYB at the end of 17, and I turned 18 at SYB”.For the year of becoming an adult, Ma Chao not only has candles and cakes but also generated skills as what he called “a craftsman“. At the age of eighteen, most people often faced with an uncertain choice in front of them, but Ma Chao felt “Just do it first. You don’t have to be like others to pursue particular choices”. In this way, he chose the SYB, which gives him “skills and platforms” as the great opportunity.
Ma Chao with his confident smile
“It looks like you are quite confident about yourself because you said you are a craftsman, where do you think your confidence comes from?”
“SYB for sure! Because many bakeries and hotels know about this program which provides a competitive platform and they all know that the students graduated from SYB are amazing. Starbucks is also a great platform which can make it easier for me to find a job later. “
Take my grandma to Shanghai
When Ma Chao has just finished his studies and got hired by Starbucks, his family said to him, “always taking care of yourself and doing your work well first, don’t think too much about going back home”.
When he was a child, he lived with his grandma. In recent days, he usually calls grandma in two or three days and the most she asked about is “have you had enough food” and ” have you finished your work?”. Grandma is now in her eighties. Ma Chao has just returned to Baoji to visit her during the Spring Festival in February and is going to go back to see her again in early May. He also expects one day to take her to look around the city Shanghai where he works.