Variety is the spice of life at Sodexo
Posted by |In Industry Insight |
Mark Welshman, Audit and Compliance Manager for Sodexo’s contract with Transport for London (TfL), explains the interesting and varied roles he has held at Sodexo in a career spanning over 20 years.
When I finished my Hotel HND, I was in a quandary. My parents were hoteliers so I grew up in hotels. I loved hotels, all the guest experience and hard work that goes on behind the scenes, but I decided to take a different approach to joining the hospitality sector. My dad mentioned Gardner Merchant, the catering company that was part of Forte group and later formed an alliance with Sodexo. I successfully applied to their ‘Young Managers Programme’, a yearlong training programme, based at their training centre in Surrey. A long way from my North Wales roots!
My first assignment was with Kodak at their head office in Hemel Hempstead. This included kitchen management, kitchen operations, front of house, reception, hospitality and vending in addition to going out to sites to gain experience and meet other people from the company.
After Kodak, I held a range of roles at a variety of Sodexo contracts, including Gillette and the BBC. At BBC Elstree, Sodexo provided the catering, hospitality and bar services and I jumped at the opportunity to become Assistant Manager. What a place! No two days were the same and you literally never knew who would be coming round the corner. We provided hospitality for TV shows such as Top of the Pops, EastEnders, Newsroom South East and Grange Hill. Imagine being on the hot food counter when the cast of EastEnders walked in for their lunch! At Tops of the Pops, I’d receive the band list, and would need to get in touch with the record companies to find out any specific food requirements their artists had. Unsurprisingly, we did get some very unusual requests. I was then promoted to Unit Manager and then given the opportunity to work at the HQ of Mobil Oil in London.
I worked at Mobil Oil for 3 years, as site Hospitality and Food Manager. A beautiful site, and being Mobil, the customer experience was second to none. One highlight here was working on 31 December 1999. We needed to provide a 24 hour service in case there were any issues with the Y2K bug. Luckily there were none but I did spend the first day of the new millennium working a 12 hour shift, just in case.
Mid 2001, a secondment opportunity led me to working on a new company system launch. I even got a company car with this job, and racked up many miles installing PC’s and delivering systems training. When that project ended, I became an Account Support Manger, looking after Mars and Nestle.
I kind of missed my “training days” so, in 2005, I joined the Learning and Development team as Systems Management Trainer. Again I met lots of lovely new people in a role that took me to all corners of the UK and Ireland. It was great to be able to pass on my skills to others and seeing them develop and grow within Sodexo.
By 2013 my feet were itchy and I moved back into an operations role at Transport for London as group Audit and Compliance Manager. I’m still with TfL, using my knowledge to support and upskill our teams within the Health, Safety, Environment and Quality (HSEQ) management across the 25 sites we operate.
Throughout my time at Sodexo, I’ve seen how important employee recognition is to the organisation. In 2016 I received an award at Sodexo’s Star Awards, our annual employee recognition event, for my HSEQ work within Government Services, what a special night that was!
Giving something back to local communities is another key part of Sodexo’s culture. Sodexo’s Hunger Foundation has been set up to help tackle hunger and malnutrition and provide education and support to promote health, nutrition and wellbeing. Inspired by the work of the Foundation, I took on the role of charity champion for Government Services to awareness of Stop Hunger within the division and make lives better for people touched by food poverty. Through this, I have organised fundraising walks in Snowdonia, the Thames London Path (52 miles) and a 46-mile walk in Cambridgeshire – I also did a parachute jump in 1997. We have raised thousands of pounds as well as volunteered to support FareShare and the Trussell Trust. In recognition of my work here, I was extremely proud to be awarded “Charity Champion” for 2017 at this year’s Stop Hunger Awards (and was totally gob smacked to be honest!).
So Sodexo, we’re now up to date, I hope many more adventures and opportunities will come my way with the company. People often say to me, “you’re still with your firm?”. I say yes, but what they don’t realise is the amount of opportunities and different job roles you can have within Sodexo. Long may it continue!
Take a look at our website to learn more about Careers at Sodexo