DEVELOPMENT (n) Modification, growth, learning, adaptation, progress


  • 1 microbrewery, 2 restaurants
  • 115 employees
  • 11,000 barrels of beer per year

In 2008, Olivia Magnano grad-uated from the University of Washington, a 22-year-old with a communications degree staring into recession’s maw and feeling Portland’s mysterious magnetism. “Why not do a fun service-industry job,” she recalls thinking, “just to meet people and weather the storm?”

She landed as a restaurant host at Hopworks, a new microbrewery and pub with a sustainability bent. She knew little about beer or restaurants. But Hopworks’ HR strategy is as much about learning as brewing, and is as organic as its IPA. 

“We take a lot of pride in finding talented, thoughtful people,” owner-brewmaster Christian Ettinger says of the company he’s taken from about 40 to 115 employees. “You can cultivate that, and their roles grow and evolve.”

Magnano quickly became an expediter, making plated food look good as it left the kitchen. Then she moved to server. When the company’s admin department ran short of help, she began filling in half-time. Today, she’s the office manager while in training to lead Hopworks’ human-resources efforts—the company is helping her pay for classes at Portland State.

On her way into her new office job, Magnano passed Amelia Pillow (below), who was headed the other direction. Pillow had started as a server, jumped in as a fill-in bookkeeper, and then become the office manager. But, really, she wanted to make beer. Now 31, she’s worked her way up from keg washer to brewer, with help from an American Brewers Guild certification course the company helped arrange. “I’ve been able to progress very quickly,” she says.

So it goes at Hopworks, where the head salesman used to brew and the newest restaurant manager came up from the kitchen. “There’s no formal policy, but it’s something we do,” Ettinger says. “It’s about communication.”

Related Articles