Celebrating Black History Month: How Tanya Hill-Holliday Became the First Black Female McDonald’s Franchise Owner in Philadelphia
running-a-business | Read Time: 3 minutes
By Eric Springer | Published: February 2021
When Tanya Hill-Holliday speaks, it is impossible to not listen and feel inspired.
Hill-Holliday, the founder, president and CEO of TanWay Enterprises, forged her path of leadership as a state track and field champion in high school, then as a part time McDonald’s employee while earning her degree in business administration and management at Morgan State University.
“I started as a crew team member, cleaning the restaurant and kept working there through college to pay my way,” says Hill-Holliday. “I didn’t have any intention of having a career with McDonald’s, I was going to get a ‘real job’ when I finished college.”
But as she worked her way up and eventually began working in McDonald’s corporate offices, she began to look toward franchising.
“I held 13 different positions with McDonald’s over 26 years, working my way up to a corporate vice president in charge of multiple locations,” says Hill-Holliday. “When I decided to be a franchisee, it was a new challenge that I embraced head-on.”
Hill-Holliday acquired her first McDonald’s restaurant next to Villanova University in July 2005, becoming the first Black and female McDonald’s owner within the Philadelphia region’s Main Line. But she wasn’t done there. Hill-Holliday expanded her franchise operations around and into the City of Philadelphia, making TanWay Enterprises the first Black and Women-owned McDonald’s franchisee in Philadelphia as well. Further expanding her business, she also became the first African American McDonald’s owner in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
As a trailblazer in the region’s business community, Hill-Holliday maintains a keen focus on mentoring others who aspire to forge their own path in business and life.
“Helping people grow and develop is my pride and joy,” says Hill-Holliday. “I see so much promise in many of our employees and those that show dedication and commitment are those I try to help become successful at whatever they choose to do with their careers.”
Richard Snow, WSFS Bank’s SBA National Franchise Relationship Manager, sees the impact Hill-Holliday has on people. “I first met Tanya through our participation on the International Franchising Association’s (IFA) leadership council,” says Snow. “When I first came to WSFS, she was already a longtime WSFS Customer. But when I got to know her it was apparent that her strength and wisdom are an inspiration for a whole new generation of Black and female entrepreneurs.”
When mentoring others, Hill-Holliday uses her own experiences and resolve to be successful as a springboard for her three key areas to focus on as a person grows and aims to achieve their goals.
Have a vision. “It’s important to visualize your dream and keep your eye on that goal. Don’t change where you want to be in life. Change how you get there, if you need to, but have a plan. People don’t plan to fail; they fail to have a plan.”
Don’t be afraid to fail. “The only true failure in life is to give up. It’s ok to make mistakes, just don’t keep making the same ones. If you don’t hit a goal or target, use it as a learning experience. Ask yourself, ‘What’s my next step?’ Learn and grow from mistakes. They are life experiences.”
When you get knocked down, fall backward so you can still see what’s in front of you. “Then look up, get up and go at it again. Being Black and female isn’t always a smooth road, but you can’t give up.”
“I had so many opportunities as I grew my career with McDonald’s and became a franchise owner,” says Hill-Holliday. “My goal is to reciprocate, which also helps continue my own growth as a businesswoman, leader, mentor and friend.”
About the Author – Eric Springer
Eric Springer is Assistant Vice President, Integrated Communications Manager at WSFS Bank. He brings more than 15 years’ experience in corporate communications and marketing for banking, professional services and nonprofit organizations.
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