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Sharing the SodexoUSA Story

August 12, 2010

I am so excited to be coming to TruManchester to talk of the SodexoUSA story. Who would have thought six years ago when we were asked to form Sodexo’s first ever national, centralized, and cross-divisional Talent Acquisition Group supporting our seven different business lines, that we would be invited to an event like this to share our story. Sometimes failure can be one of the best things that happens to a company. In our case, Sodexo had experimented with an outsourced recruitment model which turned out to be a disaster for our company and we were asked to create a model that would meet our company’s need for talent now and to achieve our long-term growth goals.

September marks the six year anniversary of the formation of our Sodexo Talent Acquisition Group. Sodexo is one of largest employers in the world and in the US we have 110,000 employees at more than 6000 locations and hiring about 5000 management employees each year. As an outsourcing company our only real product is our people, so our ability to attract and recruit top talent is critical to our business success.

It was an exciting time – to create and build an entire operation from the ground up. I am often asked what made our organization successful—and thinking back on it, the key was that before we did anything, we thought through the kind of organization we wanted to create—focusing in our mission, vision and values. We wanted more than just words on paper—if they could come to life and be a part of our DNA, they would guide us into the future. And they still do. What is still amazing to me is how deeply our entire team holds to our mission, vision and values, especially as we are a virtual team. The majority of our team of 85 work virtually in home offices located in 38 states and even one living in Canada.

Unlike many organizations that may go through restuctures or remodeling we had an exciting opportunity to build everything from the ground up—build a recruitment organization for the 21st Century.

Mind the Gap—the famous London underground sign—is the perfect analogy of how we built our strategy and operate today. We “mind the gap” between the platform and the train so as not to fall through—in other words the gap between where we are and where we want to be. Some might refer to us as the geek squad. We spend a lot of time looking at trends and analyzing data in order to prepare for the future today. We explore technologies to find new ways of connecting with the best talent, but in the end it’s 100% about people.

Given the demographic trends with the aging and shrinking labor market, increased need for highly skilled talent, and our desire to strengthen the diversity of our workforce we took a multi-pronged, multi-generational approach in developing our strategy. Like many companies, Sodexo’s Talent Acquisition strategies require multiple dimensions to attract and engage top talent across many demographic, geographic and discipline specific needs.

There is a lot of passion and excitement on our team. There was the excitement of creating something new and the continued excitement of finding new ways to attract and engage talent for our company. Our Mission, Vision and Values have become part of our DNA and continues to propel us forward to explore new ways of engaging talent such as our involvement with social media and talent communities where we are able to truly engage with people in a whole new way.

Similarly it leads us to look internally to our own employees and think how we can impact their career aspirations through internal mobility, including international mobility. How cool is it to celebrate our 6 year anniversary as Talent Acquisition Group with HR Professionals across the pond while launching international mobility initiatives at home.

I am thrilled to be a part of this unconference which will be a completely new experience for me as I am visual person and love the ability of visuals to share concepts and feelings. Even in this blog post, it is hard for me not to include a visual.

I am excited to come and share the Sodexo story, and would love to hear from you about some of the areas you are most interested in exploring. I am also looking forward to all the things I will learn at the conference to continue to explore new frontiers and experience different perspectives which will enable me to bring new ideas back to my team.

I invite you to connect with me on Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook.

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