HTM Leadership Academy Visits Sodexo Facility at Bose Headquarters
April 16, 2015
(Written by Renny Xu '16.)
When I was first invited to attend the annual HTM Leadership Day at Sodexo with Dr. Oh’s Hospitality Leadership class, I was elated to oblige. As a dedicated Hospitality student and member of the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality (NSMH) chapter at UMass Amherst, I was excited for the opportunity to learn about leadership roles from senior executives and UMass HTM alumni at Sodexo.
UMass HTM Leadership Day was an event where over 20 Hospitality students, including myself, were given perspective towards the duties that junior and senior executives hold as part of a multinational corporation. Starting off the day at the Sodexo Leadership Academy, Michelle Robinson posed to the audience, "What is the first word that comes to mind when you hear 'Sodexo'?" The answers that followed were hesitant and slow: "Food." "Sustainability." "…People?"
Throughout the workshop, we were invited to learn and discuss Sodexo's "Quality of Life Services” that was aided with a visual of Sodexo’s accomplishments from 2012-2013. The job opportunities at Sodexo are not limited to school cafeterias and mall food courts. In fact, they are the 18th largest employer in the world and include positions in catering events, facilities management, and talent acquisition among other sectors. Along with the expertise of many senior executives, we were exposed to the basics of what Sodexo is and what some of the senior executives deal with on a daily basis. Sodexo is a company that designs, manages, and delivers services dedicated to improving the quality of daily life where people get together.
Learning from UMass HTM alumni like Arie Ball and Mike Grey was an inspiring experience. It was amazing to hear where they started from, how they got to their current position, and the advice they had to offer to us future leaders. Arie Ball, VP of Talent Acquisition, began her college career in fashion merchandising and dietetics. Her advice about always having a Plan B was especially motivating as many of us in the audience were rising seniors or graduating seniors. Having a backup plan means you have to think ahead and consider different outcomes. If Plan A doesn’t go accordingly, Plan B will have your back.
Mike Grey, VP of Regional Operations, posed a case study to the audience involving issues between a food service manager and the school board where there was contemplation of terminating Sodexo’s contract. Mike invited us to come up with a solution where the audience had to step into a leader role. After some well thought out suggestions, Mike told us the solution: In order to keep the contract, it was essential to satisfy not only the client but also the manager involved in the issue. Being put on the spot to come up with a plan and explaining how it would be executed and what the results would be was a compelling experience. It made me eager to start my internship with Sodexo where I know I will have further opportunities to learn from their leadership.
At the end of the workshop, Michelle asked again, “So, what is the first word that comes to mind when you hear 'Sodexo'?"
Students eagerly answered: "Service!" "Innovation!" "Leadership!”