Chief Operating Officer

Company Overview

Dandelion Chocolate

Dandelion Chocolate Website
Dandelion Chocolate is a bean-to-bar chocolate factory in San Francisco’s Mission District. We make chocolate from only two ingredients, cocoa beans and cane sugar, and travel to origins as often as we can to build good, trusting relationships with the producers who grow and ferment our beans. For such a small organization, our operation is surprisingly complex ranging from cocoa producers, international logistics, online fulfillment, retail locations, multiple chocolate factories and kitchens, corporate and business partners, external collaborators, holiday seasonality, as well as our own internal product development. Our future Chief Operating Officer will be tasked with the planning and goal-setting to ensure seamless business operations as well as building goodwill across our cocoa producers, teams, local neighbors, and online visitors by delivering upon our promises with quality, openness, and timeliness.

You’ll join a small exec team with finance and product backgrounds who are thoughtful, quality-oriented, action-forward, and with deep appreciation for teams of diverse backgrounds and skills. We’ve heard others say, “You take active listening to a different level” yet there is a lot brimming below the surface too. With an organization just shy of a hundred people (about 160 pre-covid) in the Bay Area, our most successful leaders can read a room, ask questions before jumping to conclusions, are comfortable stepping in firsthand to drive towards goals, and develop in-person relationships rather than directing from spreadsheets and reports alone.

About the Role
Our approach to quality and excellence entails understanding what we do from first principles whether sourcing beans from decade-long relationships, fulfilling orders from our own warehouse, overseeing our local Bay Area delivery program, developing home-grown inventory tracking software, or tying individual bows around each gift box before packing and shipping items from our Mission District address. Our goal is to build a business from the ground up that endures for decades, hopefully, a century or more, taking a long-term approach over quick and easy wins. We’ve invested in our team, business, and infrastructure for ten years and now have the factories and fundamentals in place to expand our presence in the craft chocolate world thoughtfully through a culture and product that instills pride in all involved.

Working closely with the CEO and exec team, you will develop and oversee a thriving, sustainable craft chocolate business across diverse operations (e.g. production, packaging, inventory, fulfillment, logistics, and deliveries) supporting multiple revenue channels (online, retail, b2b, corporate, experiences). Your first task will be developing a cadence for reviewing plans, growth drivers, key metrics, and areas for improvement to set the operational pulse necessary for emerging in a post-covid world poised for online and retail expansion.

You will know you are doing a good job in this role if we have few operational surprises or product shortages thanks to your proactive planning, we always have complete, up-to-date reports and KPIs ready to go, we are consistently hitting our goals, and the quality of our chocolate continues to improve year after year.

A Day in the Life
No matter the month or day, our eye is always on November and December, the make-or-break holiday season when the majority of our online and retail business can be compressed into just 3-5 weeks. Your Monday starts with strolling into the factory for a hot chocolate, saying hi to the morning café opening team and thanking Chuck, our mechanic wizard, who is repairing a finicky roaster. You settle into your seat to review the finance team’s just-reported weekly numbers, noting that we surpassed the assumed target last week but fell short of our aggressive target. Next up, you check in with Paul, our Director of Chocolate Operations, to make sure that his team’s hiring plan is on track and if there is anything you can do to help out. You then meet with Ashely on the confections team to make sure they have reworked their production plan (advent calendar, truffles, etc) based on the amount of chocolate they will have available. Based on Ashley's feedback, you make a note to talk to the production team to see if they can prioritize Tumaco, Colombia chocolate for the upcoming Mother’s Day truffle box.

At lunch, you have a meet and greet with a new co-packer that we are bringing on for hot chocolate vials to make sure that they have an escalation point. After lunch, you meet with the finance team to talk through the payment plan for the newest ball mill that we just purchased. During that conversation, you get an escalated email from the Production Director letting you know that the ball mill will be delayed, and wants to discuss the impact on the production schedule and on new product launches, so you set a meeting with her for next week and jot down some notes about the potential tradeoffs to think through. In the afternoon, you meet with the exec team to stay updated on the current plan for reopening the 16th Street Café. Toward the end of the day, Paul emails over the revised job description for final approval based upon your conversation before sending it to the recruiting team to post. Wrapping up your day, you check-in with the Fulfillment team just to say hello and to see today’s USPS afternoon deliveries before they head out the door. José who leads our Fulfillment Operations asks for 5 seconds of help with a spreadsheet formula which turns into a 10 minutes discussion about the merits of index/match versus vlookup and a pointer to look into Google Reports to build his first dashboard. He asks if you can stay for 5 more minutes to sing Happy Birthday to the new Warehouse Associate. You join the team in singing and then take your slice of chocolate birthday cake home, celebrating a smooth start to the week.

About You
If you thrive on establishing and scaling day-to-day chocolate and production operations, can clear hurdle upon hurdle with each unexpected obstacle (e.g. bean containers fall off ships, global pandemics halt trade), can maintain a keen strategic sense despite the day-to-day distractions, can pivot and effectively articulate a plan B (and maybe a plan C and D) to rally the teams when necessary, and offer a zero-ego approach to conflict, we’d like to hear from you. For the right company and the right group of people, you’d love an opportunity to grow a sustainable business that produces some of the world’s very best bean-to-bar craft chocolate that will inspire generations to come. Our ideal candidate is an exec with an entrepreneurial spirit, through-and-through integrity, and a winning, can-do attitude that people want to work with again and again.

Job Categories

  • Hours: Full-time
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  • Industry: Food and Beverage
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Job Duties

Your Day-To-Day Entails:
- Business Operations. Determine how we run our US operations ensuring we have a 6-12 month plan with clearly assigned roles across the teams; set benchmarks, targets, and KPIs; and move operations forward toward growth, profitability, and $100M in revenue. As an exec with expertise in manufacturing and logistics, your role is to develop short and long-term plans, ensure everyone knows their roles and responsibilities (while prioritizing safety above all else!), allow opportunities for team’s voices for feedback and suggestions to be considered, and to jump hurdle upon hurdle to ensure we meet our deadlines and promises.
- Management. Design organizational structures and oversee Operations and Chocolate Production departments. Develop and document operational processes, SLAs, best practices, with an eye towards the final guest experience and craft chocolate. Guide strategic decisions by monitoring performance, analyzing variances, and initiating corrective actions. Work closely with our finance team to work towards annual budgets and forecasts and help the managers of these departments understand and work towards their budgets. Manage and mentor a small team of managers/directors who report to you.
- Strategy. Act as a strategic thought-partner to the exec team, knowing when to advocate for big technical, machine, process, or product jumps forward and when to take a more iterative approach towards best-in-class excellence. Analyze opportunities for retail expansion, bean investments, and potential shipping and vendor partnerships. Proactively look at trends and assess where potential development areas and opportunities exist so we are ready to adapt to the market and climate as necessary.
- Reporting and Analytics. Develop benchmarks to measure company operations and ensure that teams are on track and hitting their goals. Oversee budget variances and discuss significant issues with management, working closely with the finance team. Lead contract negotiations and pricing decisions. Support finance team with monitoring and reporting on company operations in accordance with annual budget. Partner with other departments to help make financially sound, operationally efficient decisions. Develop board-level forecasts and reports to keep our investors well-informed so they can help contribute to Dandelion Chocolate’s success.
- Ally to CEO and exec team. You do your best to understand the heavy-lifting and stress that accompanies being a CEO and to provide a complement to one another, forming a long-term, respectful, collaborative, working partnership that will weather many future trials yet to come. Occasional travel may be required to coordinate with our Japanese team or to visit key vendors, Dandelion locations, and pop-ups. We aim to have a key exec visit our Japanese team on a quarterly basis, rotating with the team, or as necessary for issues or key holidays.
- Other responsibilities as necessary

Job Requirements

We’d love to hear from you if you have this experience:
- Leadership. Proven experience leading large cross-functional teams for multiple years, preferably across multiple states or countries.
- Business Operations. You have many tried-and-true years in a business operations role where you’ve been enmeshed in deep costing, inventory, and manufacturing tactics. You speak the language of assortment planning, warehouse, inventory, and can orchestrate alignment with other parts of the organization including chocolate production, product development, marketing & PR, recruiting, and guest support teams so the organization works in unison.
- Communication & soft skills. Our culture is based on positive, can-do, servant-oriented values. As a leader, you can clearly distill and communicate complex topics broadly to the exec team, individual team members, and everyone in-between while building Dandelion’s culture and maintaining good-spirited camaraderie, you can deliver feedback. From barista to vice president, you can provide timely, helpful feedback with the desired emotional and performance result in mind. You maintain confidences, shun gossip and politics, and believe overall in kind, compassionate leadership. Japanese and/or Spanish-speaking skills are a plus though not at all a requisite.
- Tech-savvy & analytics. You can drill down on reports and spreadsheets to ask the salient questions. Expert in spreadsheets, Google suite, Keynote/Powerpoint, and workflow tools. Our current tech stack also includes: Shopify, Shogun, Jira/Trello, and many Google sheets.
- Expert network. You’re not afraid to say you don’t have an answer. However, you have a robust network of trusted experts that you can turn to when you reach a dead-end which includes contractors, specialists, and vendors.

Skills/Experience Preferred

Compensation

Benefits

Hours

Full-time

Resume Required

Yes

Cover letter Required

Yes

Other Application Requirements

It’s probably been a few years since you dusted off your resume or wrote a cover letter and if you’ve read this far, you’re likely wondering what the process looks like and what we look for. This is a significant role within our organization -- we’ll be kickstarting exploratory phone conversations followed by informal in-person discussions with our people operation & exec team before mutually determining whether a formal interview process with the BOD and other team members makes sense. Please include your resume and a 1-2 paragraph description of general philosophies or values that have defined how you’ve led your teams. We’ll do our best to respond to all serious candidates within a few days. We look forward to hearing from you. In accordance with the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance, we will consider qualified applicants with arrest and conviction records for employment.
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