Your Future... So Sodexo

Read stories about real Sodexo people who help make a difference in the lives of people like you.

Cathy Miedl

Hospitality General Manager
Nebraska Medical Center

 

What would you say about Sodexo as a place to work?
Sodexo has so many opportunities – if you aren't seeing them, your eyes are closed. I choose to stay local and be close to my family, and Sodexo has really offered me a lot of opportunities and challenges for me to grow my career.

I knew I made the right decision to join Sodexo pretty far into my career, when I learned that my dad was diagnosed with stage-four cancer. In that situation, I just knew I wanted to stay at the Nebraska Medical Center account and tend to him during his treatment. I didn't really have to take many days off, as I could visit him, check on him, and even go to doctor's appointment with him in between work. I knew he was in the right hands because of how easy everyone I knew and worked with at this account made it for me. He has been cancer-free for three and a half years now, and that is when I knew I was really at the right place.

How did you and your team make an impact on others' lives?
I believe that one of the biggest contributions I bring to the team is the passion and the customer service training for my staff. I always use the analogy of football: we may play about a hundred games a day in healthcare, meaning we run into a hundred customers a day. So we have the opportunity to get a hundred touchdowns a day. With that, I always tell my staff, "Look to catch the ball. The customers are looking to see if you're going to catch it and what you're going to do after you have it." You really do make a difference and it may not feel like you're making a million dollars. Every piece of the puzzle plays a role, and I feel that my role makes a difference to my employees. If my employees each make a difference to every customer they come across, then I've done my job.

Can you describe a challenging task you worked on?
One day, we had a full house staying at the hotel, that's about 125 families, and that's the day I received a call from maintenance at 7pm, learned that a water main had broken on the street. I will need to evacuate the entire hotel of guests and find them alternative accommodations, as they would have no water and we weren't sure how long the repair is going to take. I came to work immediately, worked with one of my amazing staff to contact nearby hotels until we drafted a plan. Luckily, the water main was fixed when we were just about to execute the plan. What we had was a huge challenge, and yet my rock-star staff and I were going to make it happen.

William Putsky

General Manager
Unilever

 

How did your career start and advance in Sodexo?
I went to college for Food Service and I was a chef. I worked in some large hotel chains before the opportunity at Sodexo came along. I was attracted to the work schedule: Monday through Friday, no nights, weekends, or holidays, so I figured I would give it try. I started at Sodexo as a chef manager, and I managed a staff of two.

There are a lot of opportunities within the company to advance your career. You can take the training, move to larger accounts, work with different people, and continue learning new things as you move on. You basically grow with the company. With that, I really got a feel for working in the corporate services.

What would you say about Sodexo as a place to work?
Sodexo has given me the opportunity to have a normal life. Like I said, the schedule is very attractive: when the kids are home from school, you're home from work; when the kids are off for the weekend, you're usually off for the weekend.

I also have a pretty good team here. There are people who left and came back because they liked working here. Many of my staff here are also highly motivated to work with food. Many of them want to become chefs and eventually move on to a management role. So they try to learn the cooking process as much as they possibly can so that they can take on something more than they're doing now.

Jennifer Currier

Catering Manager
Hobart & William Smith Colleges

 

What would you say about your experience at Sodexo?
There's a lot of training at Sodexo. It doesn't have to be in the career that you're in at the moment as it can expand your horizon. I've learned a lot, such as different ways to interact with your clients and your coworkers, how to be a little more professional in your wording, or how to be a better leader and manager. There's also a lot of opportunity to move up.. It's a great company to work for and I can't wait to move up so I can do more.

How does your catering team work together in improving quality of life?
During the Summer of 2014, we had an amazing wedding on a lawn under a tent. When we were setting up, a hurricane swept through. The wind was blowing and breaking our setup. Everybody just came together to finish the task and they didn't ask questions or stop what they were doing. The teamwork was just amazing. Everybody was in great spirits and they helped each other out until we got it all set for the bride and groom.

Kimberly Rothschild

Catering Manager
Hobart & William Smith Colleges

 

How did you start your career at Sodexo?
I worked here since I was a student. I got to know a lot of people and I just fell in love with the business. It's crazy and fun. My husband also works for Sodexo and received a full time job as a supervisor at the school that we graduated from. When we transferred I was unsure about my future but Sodexo offered me a position at a ski resort close by for the winter which led to a supervisory role. Since then I've worked my way up into management positions at different accounts.

What would you say about your experience with Sodexo?
There are so many opportunities within Sodexo and so many different accounts that you could work with. The company has always had my back and always helped me in finding a position that I needed or even wanted.

What is it like working for catering?
Within the Catering Department, challenges come up all the time. We have last minute events and meetings that come up on campus. The client will call us and ask if we can get food and drinks over in short notice. You really have to be on your game for that. We would alert everyone that's involved, such as the salad department and the cooks. It's my moment of pride when I walk up to my employees and say "I just got this phone call and we need to get this done in an hour", and they respond "what can we do?" It's a great feeling knowing that you have the support.

Lynn Pelkey

General Manager
Hobart & William Smith Colleges

 

How did you start your career at Sodexo?
I owned my own restaurant for a few years in Lincoln, New Hampshire. I had a small child and felt that I was spending all of my time at the restaurant. I went back to school and finished my degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Administration at U Mass Amherst. While I was in school, a professor told me all the great things about working for a contract foodservice company, like how it could be the best of both worlds. He convinced me to take a look at it. After graduation, I started with Marriott at Phoenix Home Life in Connecticut as a manager. Then, I went to work for Sodexo at Tanglewood. From there I worked for several different schools within Sodexo, until I found this position at Hobart and William Smith and moved back to New York.

What do you like the most about your job?
One of the things that I really do love about my job is that it is exciting and constantly moving. I don't really have a routine. Every day is a different day. I like that excitement. I don't know if I would excel in a job where I just had to sit in an office and do the same thing day in and day out. Sodexo provides me the opportunity to do what I love but also constantly interacting with people.

What would you say about working for Sodexo?
You can change and grow your career while staying with the same company. So, you don't have to job hop. You can go into finance, you can go into marketing, you can go into food service, and you can go into facilities. It's also worldwide organization.

Daniel Clayton

Retail Manager
Nebraska Medical Center

 

How did your start your career at Sodexo?
I started at the hospital in 2006 as a line cook. In 2009-2010, the Clarkson Café was being renovated and I volunteered to work late on the grill. I got one-on-one time with a lot of the patients that were coming through and was able to listen to their stories and talk to them, gaining a purpose for working in a hospital setting and a passion for service. Once a leadership role opened up, I applied to become a Retail Manager to help meet the demands of the patients.

What would you say about working for Sodexo?
Working for Sodexo gives me purpose and showed me the importance of responsibility. The leadership development programs that Sodexo has really helped me to grow and mature. It changed my thought process and made me a better manager.

Jamie Rosales

Retail Manager
Nebraska Medical Center

 

What's your experience working for Sodexo?
Sodexo gives you a different perspective on how to treat people and make their lives better. The company has a lot training programs. One of them is called CARES, which stands for Compassion, Accountability, Respect, Enthusiasm and Service. It touches on every aspect of what we do at Nebraska Medical Center. It opens your eyes to compassion, respect, accountability with your job and service, so it covers the whole spectrum of food service. This particular training has probably had the biggest impact on myself and my staff. That's why I like Sodexo. Sodexo kind of opens your mind in thinking about how you treat people and possible situations that they're in.

Can you tell us a project you worked on?
There was a very sick cancer patient in our unit. She contacted the food service and wanted to have a last meal with her husband on their wedding anniversary. So we arranged a dining room, decorated with linen, flowers, and candles. They came down, had their last meal together. She passed away the very next day. I don't think many people can say that they've actually been involved in someone's last wish in their life. We were very proud.

Cherylyn Gifford

Patient Service Manager
Nebraska Medical Center

 

How did your career at Sodexo start?
After completing my internship, I interviewed with Sodexo. I wasn't expecting to get into management right away, but Sodexo decided to give me the opportunity to do that. In order to prepare for this management position, Sodexo supported me with trainings to learn how to manage employees and complete required Sodexo audits.

What would you say about working for Sodexo?
There're a lot of opportunities for growth and to try different things and in different environments. There are so many different avenues that Sodexo has; I can go into healthcare, or universities or education. I love working with food and doing anything that helps patients nutritionally. With Sodexo, I really get the opportunity to work clinically with patients and also with food service. I like having the range of being able to do both.

Can you describe a project you worked on?
Once we had a patient who was on gluten free diet and was upset with the limited menu options available for him. He was concerned since he was away from home for an extended period of time and was hard time during his stay. I talked with him and got to know him and then the chef and I worked together to come up with some recipes for him. We really made him happy, not just by giving him food options that he enjoyed, but by letting him know that we cared and went out of our way to make his stay better.

Paul Laauwe

General Manager
Unilever

 

How did your career at Sodexo start?

I started with this company with a couple of my college friends who came out of the same class and we all worked for the same unit. I didn’t know anything at that time. I was so green coming into this company, I couldn’t even cut vegetables straight. Luckily I worked in an account with an amazing chef and a great team of employees that supported me. It made me feel this is where I’m going to stay and grow my career.

How did your career at Sodexo advance?

I started out as a grill cook in an hourly position. It was fun just learning the ropes and working station to station, from the grill, to deli station, to pizza, to salad, and so on. There’s a value in starting from the bottom and working your way up. You get to know what it’s like to serve the customer directly. I worked my way into the kitchen as a cook, then a sous chef, then a chef manager. After travelling around to a few accounts, I became the General Manager here at Unilever.

Can you tell us about your award as a Hero of Everyday Life?

I won this award for helping to fight hunger in my community. I partnered with a local food bank in my community to help raise money and awareness and bring gather food donations. I also provided meals for homeless men every Friday night at a local shelter.

Cynthia Walz

General Manager
Durango, CO
Fort Lewis College

 

What brought you to Sodexo?
As an entrepreneur, I was skeptical about moving to corporate food service company. But because of Sodexo’s large scope and innovative initiatives, this company has provided me so many opportunities to grow develop and contribute. Their commitment to health and wellness, work/life balance, recognition and recruitment of top talent are the reasons why Sodexo remains my employer of choice.

How has Sodexo assisted you in your professional development?
In six short years with Sodexo, I have become a Certified Executive Chef with the ACF and will finish up the required testing for Certified Culinary Administrator by end of this year. I am also trained in allergens and intolerance in a cafeteria and dining room setting and leverage the support of Sodexo’s Registered Dietitians to help our meals meet nutritional needs.

What advice would you give to a chef considering a culinary career with Sodexo?
If you are considering a career change that offers more work/life balance, opportunity for creativity, sustainability or mentoring, consider Sodexo! 

This is your opportunity to go anywhere you want to go and do anything you want to do, with the support and resources that are second to none. Being a chef for Sodexo gives you the ability to positively affect not just a team of people, but the quality of life for clients, students, faculty, patients and residents.

Read more about Chef Cynthia on the Sodexo Careers Blog.

Catherine Theresa McKiernan, CEC

Regional Brand Manager
Las Vegas, NV

 

How did your career path bring you to Sodexo?
I have been working in the food/hospitality industry for more than twenty-five years. Some of those years were in Glasgow, Scotland. When I came to America as a college student, my first job was a dishwasher/utility worker in a summer camp in Northern Wisconsin. As I learned and grew in my culinary career I had a variety of jobs, both front and back of the house, and during that whole time I had never even heard of Sodexo.

After ten years as Executive Chef in a private club, I began to see the Sodexo name crop up in job postings – and they had such a variety of positions all throughout the US that I realized that they were actually a pretty big deal!

How do you use your culinary background as a General Manager?
I use my culinary knowledge every day, whether it is creating menus, training the cooks or meeting with the clients for catering events and special menus for different groups within the school. My culinary background also gives me the discipline to organize my time and focus, as working in a kitchen is by definition being able to multi-task.

How has Sodexo assisted in your Professional Development?
Part of my development plan is to refine my strengths, so in turn I have been given assignments and tasks that will challenge me while at the same time train and educate me. In regards to my certification process, I was already a Certified Executive Chef but I had to recertify and Sodexo provided the support needed for this continuing education.

What advice would you have for someone seeking a culinary career path with Sodexo?
My advice is to understand that Sodexo is a very large organization, with many opportunities to use your culinary knowledge as a foundation to learn a multitude of other skills. Also, Sodexo will recognize and reward you for bringing your skills and culinary passion to work which can be rare in the industry!

John Enright

General Manager Food, Universities
Binghamton, NY

 

What is your typical day like?
As Executive Chef, a large part of my job is overseeing food quality, food presentation, training and food safety in five dining halls. I manage the menu system as it relates to inventory products, pricing, costing of menus and relationships with food vendors.

What is the best part of working for Sodexo?
Working with campus services provides me with a better quality of life. The students are young and trendy, and that keeps me current and creative.

What kind of interactions do you have with your customers?
Every day I have the opportunity to visit with my customers in the dining room and serving lines. I like to ask them how their meal is. I also visit with the school’s menu committee group and solicit information in an effort to continually improve. All of the chefs are highly visible, approachable and responsive to needs and requests.

What motivates you?
My job is very rewarding. At the end of the day, I know that we have accomplished a next-to-impossible feat: satisfying 15,000 people. There is always a need to improve the food, and that is what motivates me. I feel blessed and very lucky to be able to work in an environment where I am able to be successful. I believe that most chefs will never have the opportunity to experience what I do in working for Sodexo.

Jey Hwang

General Manager, Food and Nutrition Services
Queens, NY
Elmhurst Hospital Center

 

Make a difference in the lives of patients while growing your career. Jey Hwang, GM Nutrition Services for a Sodexo Health Care account in Queens NY, shares how his 20 year career with Sodexo has been both rewarding for him and his patients. He attributes Sodexo’s tremendous opportunities for advancement and team support to his successful career.

Podcast Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERAfLznBUa8

Meagan Johnson

Area General Manager, District Safety Coordinator
Englewood, CO
Kent Denver School

 

What led you to your current position at Sodexo?
I was hired in as General Manager at Morrisons, Gardner Merchant and then Sodexo, where I’ve been for 16 years. I held an Opening Specialist position when I didn’t have a permanent unit. Before being hired as General Manager at Kent Denver School, I was Safety Director for my district.

What is your typical day like?
I hit the door running. The first thing I do is a walk-through of the site and a check-in with the chef. I also take this time to review signage and nutritional information for the day. Then I usually briefly visit with clients. Lunch starts at noon and I have 650 excited high school students to greet and make happy. I do this with unique foods and variety like our organic salad bar, all natural snacks and healthier options. We also do quite a bit of catering at this location – anything from coffee to food for 800 people. Some weeks we are here for long periods of time and sometimes it can be challenging balancing time for family, but I am able to do so by multi-tasking with strong organizational skills and a cheerful and pleasant attitude.

What kind of relationships have you built with your customers?
Kent is a very unique kind of place. My customers are children, and I have a good relationship with a lot of them. Also with the moms who ask what their child ate that day. I care about them, and it feels good to know that I have been able to build strong relationships.

Aaron Brooks

General Manager, Multi-Service
Washington, DC
St. Albans School

 

What is your typical day like?
The first thing I do is walk around to say good morning to everyone. Then I touch base with the Chef Manager to make sure all items are being prepared. Before our customers arrive, I take care of e-mail, voicemail and other administrative items. Once the crowds arrive, I like to be out in the dining room filling in where I am needed and making sure our customers are happy. That is my priority.

What is the best part of working for Sodexo?
I like working for a company that is a leader in the foodservice management industry. We have been, and still are, the benchmark in contract food services in our division. It is rewarding and satisfying to be held to higher standards when you are a part of the reason why the standards are so high.

What kind of relationships do you have with your coworkers?

I have been in this industry for more than 20 years and know “customer service” also applies to your employees. My philosophy is “Take care of your employees and they will take care of your customers.”

What motivates you?
I am motivated by my happy customers. I believe I have left a nice mark with my management style by building strong employee relationships and teams. I have an “open door” policy that employees and customers appreciate. When people stop by my office just to say dinner was great, I know I have done my job well. Getting positive feedback and seeing smiling faces make me want to come to work.

Ulysse Charles

Food Operations Manager and Former Sodexo Intern & Student Ambassador
Walhalla, SC
School District of Oconee County

 

How was your experience as a Sodexo Future Leaders Intern?
I have completed internships with other companies before where I performed entry-level duties like food prep and working as a cashier. I had those expectations for the Sodexo internship. It was not like that at all; it was all management. The internship was challenging, but my manager made sure that we had fun while working and the results of our hard work were great. After completing the internship, I was offered a Sodexo Ambassador opportunity. As an Ambassador, I have the opportunity to increase awareness of Sodexo and the contract services industry to students on my campus who may not have thought about it as a career choice.

What did you like most about interning for Sodexo?
I especially liked the mentoring aspect of the internship program. My mentor assisted me in overcoming weaknesses and enhancing my skill set. The Sodexo managers showed great teamwork and there was always a "family" environment. There seemed to be a good balance between work and family life.

Why did you decide to come to work for Sodexo?
My internship experience was great. I spent time with the account managers and two days with the District Manager, who shared his experience with Sodexo and why he liked working for the company. Everyone I spoke with had long tenure – 10 years, 20 years. That made me feel like the company was stable and that I could truly grow my career here. I saw great retention!”

Learn more about Sodexo's college and internship initiatives by visiting Student Oportunities.

Sonia Villanueva

General Manager
Glendale, AZ
California State Automobile Association

 

What is your typical day like?
My site is under construction and is a new account for Sodexo. When construction is complete, we will have a new front-of-the-house area, a new look and new equipment. My job is to oversee all of the food production and ensure we have everything that is needed to open the café. We also do simple catering. In addition, I am responsible for all financials and day-to-day operations. My job is heavy on customer service and is very hands-on. It’s exciting!

What is the best part of working for Sodexo?
I like the benefits, especially the health insurance. I also enjoy the people. I’ve been here for more than 10 years and everyone I’ve have met has been very supportive in growing my career. I also like the fact that a lot of the General Managers and District Managers started at the bottom and worked their way up.

What kind of relationships do you have with your coworkers?
I have an excellent relationship with my coworkers. We have team-building activities that create a relaxed environment for us to get to know each other. It’s nice, and you end up with true friendships with this type of approach.

What motivates you?
I love my job and feel valued. I like doing something for other people and making them smile. My team makes my job easy – we have the same spirit and motivate each other to get the job done. My family also motivates me – I want to give my children the knowledge of how to succeed in life as I have.

 

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