Forbes--The Localization of Globalization: This Company Does it All

July 09, 2015

Sodexo

Forbes--The Localization of Globalization: This Company Does it All

Gerri Mason HallDo you know who landscapes more than 1,500 acres of land at Stonehenge? Or who is the only company in the world with operations on both the North and South poles? Or who set the record for the world’s largest restaurant operation in history, feeding 3 million people, three meals a day, during World Youth Day for the Vatican?

The answer to all of these is . Never heard of them? You soon will. According to Gerri Mason Hall, is one of the best kept secrets going. And Hall would know. She is senior vice president
and chief human resources officer for the company’s North American operations.

provides integrated facilities management and food service operations to business, health care, education, remote sites, vending and government clients around the globe. As the world’s 18th largest employer, it operates in 80 countries providing more than 100 technical services that improve performance and contribute to a better quality of life for 75 million customers every day.

Until recently, , which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2016, has called little attention to itself. Working as a partner with clients, the company integrated its services more or less into others’ brand identities. But with its own rapid expansion, focus on globally inclusive leadership and plans for a more consumer-facing brand identity, has begun to step into view withan increased emphasis on building its reputation and expanding its visibility.

Key Leadership Qualities
Still, the world throws its curves. Hall speaks of “VUCA” -- a military acronym for “volatile, uncertain,  complicated and ambiguous” -- as business world realities that those in leadership must confront. “The big challenge for leaders is operating in a complex environment and having the comfort to navigate through ambiguity, to be flexible, open and manage change,” says Hall. “It takes agility. Easier said than done, but I think that’s critical to successfully navigate the global economic landscape.”


Her own style is one of collaboration and coaching. It’s an inclusive approach that fits well in human resources.

For those new to leadership, Hall advises recognizing the role calls for trust and an ability to delegate -- and that can be challenging. “We really need to start from the beginning, and we need to listen. One strategy that helps us ensure the success of new leaders, especially women and people of color, is pairing them with a peer mentor, to help with assimilation into the organization and the team. We pay attention from the start and address matters head on.”


“One strategy that helps us ensure the success of new leaders, especially women and people of color, is pairing them with a peer mentor, to help with assimilation into the organization and the team.”

– Gerri Mason Hall, senior vice president and chief human resources officer


Resources are in place to support employees, such as nine Employee Business Resource Groups, formal and informal mentoring options and flexible work arrangements. The company also offers “Reconnections,” for those who leave and later return. Hall did this herself.

“I get my satisfaction from having an impact on other people’s careers,” she says. “I can see what I contributed to this individual, and then fast forward, here they are, look at them excelling.”

 

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