Johanna Pajanen

Head of Operations at Lil Woody’s LLC
Lil Woody’s LLC

A seasoned leader in food and beverage industry, Johanna worked at Starbucks for 25 years in various roles from operations leadership, program and project management, business development as well as early stage product testing. During her tenure at Starbucks, the company grew from 250 stores to a global organization of over 35,000 stores. Following Starbucks, Johanna joined Compass Group – the world’s leading food service company, in a strategic role in program and client relationship management at Google, including development of all Compass @Google food service locations in North and South America, leading a team of kitchen designers, PM’s, culinary development and operations specialists, ensuring successful openings of cafes. In her current role as head of operations for Lil Woody’s – a local restaurant chain, Johanna is managing a small but growing portfolio of restaurants in the Seattle market. In addition, Johanna is a part time faculty member at UWB, teaching the Operations Management class, as well as consulting with early stage food and beverage concepts.

Connect with Johanna on LinkedIn.

Johanna on mentorship

I want the ability to give back to the broader UWB community, be able to engage with students at early stage of career navigation. I want to share career experiences and advice in a non tech sector, advocating for careers in retail and restaurant leadership.

Specialty topics

  • Early stage product and program development
  • Business development
  • Operations management
  • Program optimization
  • Managing client relationships
  • New and remote market development
  • Connecting the dots between classroom and day to day work.

Favorite books and learning resources

  • Industry publications (restaurant, grocery, fast casual) – daily or weekly updates to keep you informed of your industry
  • Puget Sound Business Journal – great resource for local industry updates.

Fun facts

While an avid Husky fan, two kids in SEC schools guarantees a CFP appearance every year – just need many sweaters to cheer for all the teams.