Founded in Marseille in 1966, and now operating in 53 countries, Sodexo provides facilities services that drive positive economic, social, and environmental impact, utilizing a sustainable business model and a portfolio of activities including Food Services, Facilities Management Services, and Employee Benefit Solutions.
Chief Financial Officer Amad Khan is a member of the company’s Canadian and North American leadership team, playing a key role in decision making, including Sodexo’s strategic five-year plan along with key priorities. Mr Khan also provides leadership and oversight over Canadian financial functions, including financial reporting, financial planning and analysis, tax, operational finance, risk management, and mergers & acquisitions. Sodexo has received many accolades over the years, recognized as Canada’s Greenest Employer Award in 2022, Montreal’s Top 100 Employers Award, and Canada’s Diversity & Inclusion Employer Award. With over 20 years of experience, 13 of which have been in the food and services industry, and the past two with Sodexo Canada, Mr Khan brings expertise to grow the organization through diversification of new services, branching into new markets and providing a service that focuses on people’s needs and improves their everyday. Mr Khan spoke with us recently about the origins of the Canadian arm of Sodexo, the people-first values that differentiate the business from its competitors, and his own growth mindset that helps him drive innovation and promote company values in his role as CFO.
“Sodexo has a rich history, deeply rooted in family values,” Mr Khan explains. “The company started as a family business in France, by Pierre Bellon. Pierre’s vision and values continue through his children; his daughter, Sophie Bellon, currently serves as our CEO.”
Since the mid 1960s, Sodexo has provided catering, facilities management, employee benefits, and personal home services to about 100 million consumers daily in 53 countries. The Canadian arm of the business came in the form of the 1988 Calgary Olympics.
“We provided food services to all the athletes, staff, and journalists. We went on to deliver services to many Olympic Games. We’ve done it for Barcelona, as well as the London games and more recently we’ve been selected to provide food services to the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. In terms of numbers, that means we’ll provide about 40,000 daily meals for about 15,000 athletes, for about 400 Olympic and Paralympic delegates.”
Today, Sodexo can be found servicing a range of environments and facilities, such as schools, universities, hospitals, senior living facilities, companies, and remote camps. In Canada, the company has about 10,000 employees and serves around 1m consumers daily.
More than just a services provider, Sodexo Canada can be seen as a solution provider. With a main focus on food services, the company provides two main solutions for its clients. The first is culinary excellence and the second is facilities management.
“We really want to provide the best meal experience for our guests. To do that we’ve got to develop and test recipes, reflect the latest flavor trends, as well as embed more sustainable ingredients. We don’t necessarily just do the traditional food court or food hall, but we’ve got expertise in retail services and brands, in food delivery models and digital ordering services.”
The facilities management side makes up a significant portion of the Canadian portfolio, with Sodexo providing expertise that helps optimize the consumer experience, improve efficiencies and effectiveness, and increase customer satisfaction.
“The service range is quite substantial, and really can be catered to the needs of the client. For example, we can do building maintenance, deep cleaning services, waste management, HVAC systems, and pest control. So it’s a fairly broad portfolio, but in terms of solutions we can certainly pivot and bring a customized and consumer-based solution.”
The expectations of clients come down to value. Mr Khan admits that the company always strives to meet high standards around value, which can be broken down into three key pillars: the relationship with the client, listening to the client’s needs, and focusing on customized solutions based on these needs.
“We’ve got a broad range of expertise,” he says, “but we can offer our clients the relative services and experiences that fit their needs. For example, a client may come to us wanting to work in collaboration to bring their employees back to work. How is our food service going to assist with that? So we need to go back and figure out a solution that is going to meet those needs.”
Putting people first
What sets Sodexo apart from its competitors are the values that stretch beyond the core business, beginning with putting people first. There are three areas that really typify this approach: Corporate Social Responsibility, Diversity & Inclusion, and Community Outreach.
“For some, it’s just a student meal, but for us it is a healthy child. For some, it might just be a few leftovers, but for us it is a global battle to reduce food waste. What others see as trivial, we see as essential. We want to create a better tomorrow by making the right decisions for our community and for our planet.”
The company’s global CSR outlines a commitment to creating a better tomorrow by 2025. This includes a target to reduce food waste by 50% in that period, as well as working towards increasing plant-based menu options to 33%, with many of its culinary professionals having taken plant-based training in conjunction with HSI in Canada over the last year.
“We’ve also committed to using more renewable energy. Sodexo joined the Climate Group’s RE100 initiative, in line with our commitment to switch to 100% renewable energy. I’m super proud to say that in early 2021 we actually achieved this goal. We transitioned to 100% renewable energy four years before our target, reducing our emissions to zero.”
In terms of Diversity & Inclusion, the company works with over 400 diverse suppliers across Canada, including businesses owned by Indigenous people, people with disabilities, and war veterans.
In addition to these external partnerships, the company also offers 5 Employee Business Resource Groups (EBRG) such as ADEPT (All Disabled Employees Possess Talent), So together, which helps foster a culture of gender balance, the Council for Indigenous People (CIP) raises awareness of Sodexo’s Indigenous relations and encourage indigenous employees to grow and thrive within the organization and Pride, which educates and raises awareness for LGBTQ2S+ employees.
“Last but not least, and something very near and dear to me, because I do serve as the executive sponsor for this, we’ve got the Cultural Diversity EBRG. Its mission is really to foster, promote, and encourage a corporate environment that embraces and values the cultural diversity of the employees of Sodexo.”
The company’s commitment to Community Outreach can be seen primarily in the creation of the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation, an independent organization that has raised over $3m to fight hunger and donated more than 1m meals to at-risk youth across Canada.
“Our commitment at Stop Hunger is strong as ever. Food insecurities continue to affect our communities, and we have to look at ways to raise money and raise awareness. We truly encourage our employees to get involved. For example, we created the Stop Hunger Challenge, a yearly, fun, competitive physical activity that about 300 Sodexo employees partake in, with the goal to raise funds and awareness. Sodexo matches every contribution from its employees.”
Maintaining a growth mindset
Mr Khan has been the company’s CFO for two years. Having been in the industry for many years, it made sense for him to look at moving into a more expansive role in a larger, global organization.
We spoke about personal values, leadership attributes, and how to role model the right behaviors within an organization. It was these pillars that really drew me to this organization.”
There is no typical day-to-day in Mr Khan’s position. In everything he does, he strives to bring value, at the same time bringing a unique approach to the way the business is run, taking a growth mindset over a fixed one.
“I don’t necessarily have a playbook to do my job – I certainly have to understand the numbers, policies, accounting practices, but beyond that it really comes to my own way of shaping my role and the direction of the organization. My job is to connect with people, ask the right questions and invest in the company and ultimately progress the organization. In this, I have to remain fair and to remain balanced.”
By maintaining truly amazing partnerships with some incredible organizations, Sodexo Canada is consistently pushed and inspired to keep innovation at the forefront of its business. Find out more about Sodexo by visiting www.ca.sodexo.com.