One of Veronica Endres’s favorite places in Waunakee is McDonald’s. It’s not the food. For her McDonald’s represents how she got interested in her current field and how she connects with people she cares about.
Endres, 28, known to friends as “Ronnie,” grew up in Waunakee. At 14 she started working at the Waunakee McDonald’s. At 17, she became a manager and a year later, general manager. At 20 she became human resources manager for the entire seven-restaurant group. She left McDonald’s at 22, committed to a human resources career.
“But I still have coffee day there every Friday with my dad,” she said, noting he lives in Dane. “We don’t miss a week.”
She also has regular routines with her mother, who lives in Waunakee.
“We have a regular walking route, including places where we sit and hang out,” she said.
Endres credits her mom and dad for her strong work ethic.
“My dad came from a farm family and my mother came from a business owner family,” she said. “The importance of working hard and other strong values were instilled in us at an early age. At 7 or 8 years old we were working for my father in his floor covering business every Saturday--we would go lay carpet with him. We still do—I had to help him last weekend.”
Two of three brothers also live in Waunakee, including Taylor, recently the subject of one of these profiles.
Endres attended UW-Platteville, where she received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a human resources emphasis.
She now works as Director of Talent and Total Rewards a managed care organization based in Stevens Point. It supports services for over 15,000 disabled or elderly Wisconsin residents through Wisconsin’s state-funded Family Care program in 51 counties. Endres oversees employee recruitment and retention, compensation and benefits with a staff of nine.
“It was then I realized the benefit of work with a greater purpose and the value of giving back to the community. This job was the best decision I ever made,” she said.
She started thinking seriously about her career dreams and goals. Ironically, that has led to a decision for Endres and her business partner, a fellow employee, to leave to start their own human resources consulting business in the near future when they feel they are ready.
“Eighteen months ago, I was talking with my partner about where I want to go in my career. I said someday I want to do my own consulting. She said she wanted to do the same thing. That’s when it all started. We have different strengths, and this was something we could do together,” Endres said.
They already have formed a corporation, decided on a name (secret for now), and started limited project work outside their full-time jobs.
Their hope is to work with small to medium sized businesses around Dane County. For example, they already are working with an 80-employee company in need of better leadership training. They developed training, follow-up, and stronger employee coaching. An employee survey showed a huge difference.
“You could feel the difference in their culture,” Endres said. “Employees felt accountable, and turnover decreased.”
For Endres, Waunakee is a perfect base for her current work and her new business.
“As much as we’re growing, there’s still a small-town feel,” she said. “The people are great, including my family and friends. I have the same group of friends going back to 3rd grade. I could never move away.” Four years ago, she purchased a home in the Centennial Heights neighborhood.
One downside of staying in Waunakee is teasing from others about what she was like as a child.
“I was class clown in high school. Now, sometimes it’s hard for people to take me seriously,” she admits. But she does know how to have fun, especially when she’s enjoying participation in golf, softball and volleyball or cheering on the Packers or Chicago Cubs.
But she emphasized, “Work should be fun, too. You have to make time for fun on the job.”