Diadema "Dema" Pandaraoan has been working for Burger King in Hawaii since 1983 and has been general manager since 1995. She now is in charge of the company's newest restaurant in Ewa Beach. On Thursday, Pandaraoan carried an order to the drive-thru window.

Worker with a
Crown of Gold

Diadema Pandaraoan is the veteran
in charge at Burger King’s
newest outlet

Diadema "Dema" Pandaraoan

Title: General manager

Job: Hires, trains and manages the more than 40 employees at the new Burger King in Ewa Beach.

Diadema Pandaraoan tells people her first name means "crown of gold," which is appropriate since she works for Burger King. If you probe further, she will admit her name derives from "diadem," the actual word that means crown. "My parents just added an 'a,'" she explained Thursday. Raised in the Philippines, where she obtained a bachelor's of science degree in education, Pandaraoan moved to Hawaii in 1975 with her husband, Juan. At first she stayed at home to raise their two children, but in 1983 she started working for Burger King, and these days is general manager of its newest Hawaii outlet in Ewa Beach. In 2004, she was named the company's Hawaii manager of the year. She and Juan live in Waipahu.

Question: When did you become manager of the Ewa Beach outlet?

Answer: It's newly opened, so I started when we opened, on May 25 of this year.

Q: Where were you before that?

A: I was at Kapolei.

Q: How many employees do you manage?

A: I have around 43 for now.

Q: What do you mean "for now"?

A: Because I just keep on hiring if I have one eligible to hire.

Q: Is 43 the maximum number of employees at that place?

A: No, they said around 50, because it gets pretty busy, especially when school opens again.

Q: What are the jobs that people are applying for?

A: Any job, as long as we can train them. But mostly they work in any place, either order taker, either kitchen, or in the dining room. They do everything, all around. Because before they start we have orientation and training. But one person is not doing just one job.

Q: How many hours a day do you put in at the job?

A: I put in 12 to 13 hours a day, because I want to meet the different crews -- the crew in the morning, the crew at night. Some managers just put in some certain hours, but I want to meet all the crews, and see how they're doing. Then when the next manager comes in, then I have time to do my paperwork.

Burger King recently opened its 22nd Hawaii outlet in Ewa Beach and tapped Dema Pandaraoan of Waipahu to be its general manager. Above, Pandaraoan on Thursday watched Courtney Cadavona make french fry orders.

Q: Do you have your own office?

A: No, not really. It's not really an office. It's the office of everybody. (Laughter) Because we don't spend much of our time in the office. We spend most of our time in the kitchen or in the front, so we can help customers and watch the crew to see if they're doing the right thing.

Q: So how many assistant mangers do you have?

A: For now I have four assistant managers.

Q: Do you have a secretary?

A: We don't have any secretaries. My assistant managers are the ones helping me. If I tell them to help me somehow, they do it.

Q: Are you on your feet a lot?

A: Yeah.

Q: Do you get tired?

A: No, I'm used to it already. So when I sit down I feel more tired. (Laughter) I'm more relaxed walking and standing.

Q: How often do you have to attend management meetings?

A: If not emergency meeting, we have quarterly meetings, or if we have new products coming in or mainland people are coming in

Q: What do you guys discuss at those meetings?

A: We discuss about our sales, the results of secret shoppers ...

Q: Secret shoppers?

A: Yeah, we don't know who they are. So (at the meetings) we talk about how much they (the secret shoppers) grade us, our food costs, our controllables, and everything else about the business. That's also the time that they recognize everybody who's doing a great job.

Q: How long have you been a manager?

A: Since 1995. But I was assistant manager before that.

Q: At Burger King?

A: Yeah, at Burger King. In fact, I started as a crew member, a regular hourly employee, and they kept on promoting me, went up the ladder. (Laughter)

Q: What were you doing before you joined Burger King?

A: I was just a housewife, taking care of my two children, and then when I had someone who could take care of them, like my mom, then I could start a part-time job.

Q: How long have you been working for Burger King?

A: I started out a crewmember since 1983.

Q: What's your favorite part of the job?

A: Everything is just a regular thing already. (Laughter) But I love what I'm doing. Everything I'm doing.

Q: Do you think you'll be working for Burger King for awhile?

A: Yeah, because everybody is supportive over here, especially my higher supervisors. Everybody helps you out, and you meet plenty people working at Burger King. You meet any kind of people. (Laughter). Even my crew is different kinds.

Q: What's your favorite food item on the Burger King menu?

A: Everything is good. But I don't even have time to eat over here. (Laughter.) I don't have time to eat.

"Hawaii at Work" features people telling us what they do for a living. Send suggestions to mcoleman@starbulletin.com

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