How GBC alumni power the "engine" of the Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts

Main Content

From culinary student to manager of the department dubbed "the engine" of the Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts, Joey Ma's exciting journey continues at George Brown College (GBC).  

Ma is the Operations Manager of the Inventory Control Centre (ICC), a hub that supplies ingredients and equipment for all Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts (CHCA) lab classes (full-time and Continuing Education), as well as the college's student-run restaurant The Chefs' House, the Food Innovation and Research Studio (FIRSt), and any CHCA-connected special events. She oversees multiple ICC teams that manage data, purchasing, equipment, receiving, invoicing, and liquor, wine and beer.  

After completing CHCA's Food and Beverage Program and the Bachelor of Science (Foods, Nutrition and Wellness) program at Toronto Metropolitan University, Ma started working in hospitality. Sometime in the 2010s, Ma took the cake decorating certificate at GBC for fun. One thing led to another, and she found herself in the role of assistant manager and then production manager at the ICC.  

Putting GBC's strategic priorities into action  

As a GBC alumna and employee, Ma puts the college's strategic priorities into action, such as lifelong learning and diversity, equity and inclusion.  

A few years ago, Ma took advantage of the employee tuition support GBC offers by applying for and completing her MBA. "I learned a lot through my MBA. I wanted to give back to GBC, so I started focusing on improving my department, starting with more diverse hires. After the height of the pandemic, when we were rehiring a lot of casual or part-time positions, I made sure to keep diversity in mind," Ma said.  

"When I first started at the ICC, it was mostly men with one or two women working on the team." 

Ma increased gender and cultural diversity at the ICC. Approximately 40 per cent of employees are women, and the team includes members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and other cultural and ethnic backgrounds, such as Burmese, South African, Korean, Italian, and Indian.  

Alum and student-powered ICC  

The ICC employs more than 50 people, and 27, including Ma, are alumni and current students. Three alums who completed student externships at the ICC became employees, and seven current students currently work there.  

"It's always great when alumni return to give back to the GBC community. It's even more incredible when we see them invoking change in the industry. It means we did our job in preparing them for their future, and they, in return, will provide better opportunities for our future graduates," said CHCA Dean Rudi Fischbacher.   

Culinary Logistics Technologist Jeff Santos is a GBC alum who's been at the ICC for nearly 30 years. He mentioned the low number of visible minorities when he started at the ICC. But thanks to Ma's efforts in recent years, the diversity in the department has grown.  

"The college is always in a modern state, physically and in terms of recipes," he said. "There are new buildings and more labs, and we're always getting more diverse with the content we're teaching. Our instructors and students have different cultural and culinary backgrounds, and they're always excited to share their knowledge on food."  

Are you a student or graduate who wants to work with the ICC?  

If you're interested in joining the ICC team, consider contacting Ma or Santos directly through email and in person. But one of the top ways they recruit students is through professor recommendations. Work hard, show your passion, and you might just land yourself a job at the ICC.   

Stay connected to the GBC alumni community  

The GBC Alumni Network is a great way to connect with the community and discover new opportunities. Find the support you need with Alumni Relations.