While higher education has a long-held tradition of educating students in the liberal arts, some institutions now find themselves struggling for relevance and even survival in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. Expanding the selection of majors they offer is a good move. Many colleges are also leveraging their location in or proximity to cities to engage more fully with the myriad experiences and resources that proximity can provide to students.
Global Offer Development - Universities
The drive for innovation is unifying. From small, private colleges to large companies that span the globe, innovation is a cultural imperative. As higher education becomes more competitive both at the local and international level, industry leaders must infuse their organizations with new ideas, approaches, and perspectives to succeed.
As I read the latest chapter of President to President, “Building an Innovation Culture in Higher Education,” by Dakota Wesleyan University President Amy Novak, Ed.D., I noticed many parallels between what the author described and Sodexo’s own approach to innovation. Novak details a comprehensive system that helped her institution overcome challenges through a proven, continuous, five-phase cycle of innovation.
Regardless of the size or nature of an institution, the underlying foundation of innovation largely remains the same. In my experience leading teams to find creative solutions to challenges and bring new ideas to our campus partners, these pillars have been critical to keeping innovation at the forefront of our culture:
The most successful innovators quickly respond to changes by maintaining agility in both the planning and execution of programs and processes. This is especially necessary in fields like higher education, where the customer base constantly changes as waves of students enter and leave campus.
Willingness to Fail
It may sound trite, but a willingness to fail is the cornerstone of innovation. Without the space to take risks, innovators may be unwilling to put forth ideas that, with proper development, become game-changers.
Fresh perspectives are critical for fostering innovation, and one of the best ways to do that is working with other organizations both within and outside the industry. From established names to ambitious startups, new ideas can come from anywhere, and seeking partnerships with a wide array of organizations promotes a culture of innovation. For example, Sodexo’s partnership with Starship Technologies to bring robotic delivery vehicles to campus is revolutionizing the dining experience.
Disrupt the Business Model
Getting stuck on how things have always been weighs down an organization and makes it sluggish, creating a culture that is antithetical to innovation. Innovation requires—or creates—disruption, but that disruption often leads to meaningful change and improved outcomes. One example is our current work with delivery services such as Grubhub to pilot meal-plan integration, a new approach that could have long-term effects on the campus dining model.
Seek People Who Challenge the Status Quo
Organizational culture is meaningless without employees who truly champion its tenets. Innovation comes from those who value and prioritize it, so it’s vital to seek people who believe in challenging the status quo and share the values that are integral to innovation.
As Sodexo continues seeking new ways to anticipate and address the changing expectations around campus experiences, our culture of innovation will drive the creation of new programs, services, and solutions that meet our partner campuses’ evolving needs. Innovation is inherent to who we are, and it is an essential part of our culture.
Young people like Greta Thunberg and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Young Leaders are inspiring more young people to engage in the groundswell of climate activism. Their passion is not surprising. They are, after all, the ones who will be most impacted by the social, economic, and physical effects of climate change in the coming decades. It makes sense that climate change has become an important issue for college students, who often expect it to be a top priority for their campus and even cite it as a factor influencing their college selection decisions.
As I read the first chapter of Sodexo’s 2019/2020 President to President thought leadership series, “Educating the Environmental Stewards of Tomorrow: Presidential Leadership and Climate Change,” I recognized many of the things I see every day on Sodexo’s partner campuses. Author Dianne F. Harrison, Ph.D., President of California State University, Northridge (CSUN), notes that the movement for action in this area is particularly strong among youth and Gen Z students. They expect their institutions to be socially responsible, particularly in the area of sustainability, as a matter of course, and they are often leading campuses’ efforts.
Sodexo is committed to leading these sustainability solutions right alongside students at our partner sites in North America and around the world. A few recent examples reflect the latest trends in dining and address consumers’ growing expectations regarding—and desire for—sustainable practices and products.
Consumers increasingly seek plant-based dishes for both their health and environmental benefits. A 2019 Technomic, Inc. report found that 25% of U.S. students choose a plant-forward diet. Sodexo meets that demand with diverse plant-based menu options and innovative partnerships. One example is the new Impossible Burger, a plant-based meatless beef alternative, which we introduced to more than 1,500 partner sites this August.
Lighting and Equipment Retrofits
Replacing outdated lighting and other high-efficiency retrofits reduce energy consumption, lowering carbon emissions and even cutting costs for our partners. For example, at University of New Orleans, our facilities management team recently upgraded more than 22,000 LED bulbs and installed new HVAC controls. These efforts enhanced the campus environment and
saved more than 2.8 million kilowatt hours of energy, earning the campus a $250,000 rebate as well as recognition as one of the top reducers of energy consumption in Louisiana for the year.
Food Waste Prevention
Decomposing food waste substantially contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. WasteWatch powered by Lean Path (WWxLP) is a data-driven food waste prevention system that identifies the root causes of food waste. It enables onsite teams to make informed operational and behavioral changes that prevent food waste, leading to reduced purchasing costs and more sustainable operations. Around 200 Sodexo partner campuses will implement WWxLP this fall.
While huge challenges remain, Sodexo will continue doing our part as we strive to improve Quality of Life. In Universities, everything we do is focused on providing innovative solutions that meet both the local and global community’s needs and enhance the overall college experience as students prepare for their futures.
K12 Schools, Sodexo North America
To keep overall operational costs in check some schools find themselves in scenarios where maintenance and operations (M&O), system upgrades, and/or repairs are purposely deferred to a future budget cycle or postponed until funding becomes available (known as Deferred Maintenance). Deferred maintenance may seem like a reasonable short-term fix. But, the fact is this is a growing issue with long-term adverse impacts. (more…)
When I was younger I can’t say I had a thought out career strategy. I arrived in the U.S. at 17, as an immigrant from Mumbai with a total of two bags. My strategy was to put one foot in front of the other. (more…)
A comprehensive facilities management (FM) strategy can support the objectives of independent schools, yielding real results. A solid strategy starts with mapping the operational capabilities and infrastructure needs of the school to plan both preventative maintenance and strategic improvements. (more…)
Back when I first witnessed caregiving, growing up with a father who worked with seniors, it never occurred to me that the field could be cutting-edge. In fact, I thought of it as closer to an ageless art. (more…)
Food insecurity on campus often goes unmentioned. Many assume that college students’ needs are entirely met through parental support and financial assistance programs. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. (more…)
Emergency drills featuring dire scenarios are standard operating procedure for schools, universities and colleges, corporations, and communities. After working through the solutions, we pat ourselves on the back and assume that we’re ready should anything disastrous happen. Then it does, and we find out if we were right. (more…)
As we celebrate Earth Day this year, I feel proud that Asbury Communities can point to our contribution in helping preserve the planet’s resources.
Much of that is thanks to our partnership with Sodexo, which like us, honors stewardship of our resources not only as a business practice but as a value. (more…)
Every year, about 13% of the nation’s over 3.4 million teachers transfer to different schools or leave the profession altogether, according to the Alliance for Excellence in Education in collaboration with the New Teacher Center. It’s estimated that over 1 million teachers move in and out of schools annually, with 40-50% of teachers quitting within five years. (more…)
Take a look around any city these days and you might notice that among the young people there are a fair number of people who look old enough to be their parents. That’s because they are. Baby Boomers are embracing city life. (more…)
The latest chapter in Sodexo’s President to President series, “From Academic Preparation, through Skills Development, to the Knowledge Continuum” by Vistasp M. Karbhari, Ph.D., President, The University of Texas at Arlington, presents a somewhat sobering picture. It outlines the dichotomy between the U.S. academic model and the needs of American businesses, a clear threat to our future economic well-being. (more…)
When was the last time you drove from point A to point B and had no memory of how you actually arrived at your destination?
We can use our turn signals, occasionally check our mirrors and obey the speed limit—but how often do we go through those steps mindlessly? We do it all the time, don’t we? (more…)
I have a daughter and not once during her young life have I thought she deserves less because of her gender. Not at home, in the classroom or on the playing field. The idea seems ludicrous. (more…)
What’s the worst thing that can happen? It’s a question I ask myself and my team to think about every day when it comes to their safety. The answer? Anything. We can’t take for granted the importance of being conscious of our surroundings and activities. Whether we are living on offshore drilling rigs supporting our onshore team or living on construction camps supporting our engineering clients, safety has to live in the forefront of our daily activities. Our lives and health depend on it. (more…)
As we close out this year’s recognition of Black History Month, I am thinking about my daughter and son. They both appreciate diversity and inclusion and are opened minded, and full of life. But I also fear, given the atmosphere in this country today, they may become jaded and discouraged. (more…)
Higher education is the new healthcare—parents, students, politicians and the media question whether the cost justifies the results. As President J. Bradley Creed of Campbell University in Buies Creek, NC, notes in “Creating Pathways to Opportunity and Service,” the latest chapter in Sodexo’s President to President series, most people agree on the need for higher education following high school, but confidence that a college degree can advance one’s career and lead to a better life is eroding. (more…)
For many, a university or college education is simply a pathway to an exciting career. But in the case of first-generation students, it represents so much more: hope, progress and most of all, courage. (more…)
We should have seen it coming, we really should. Popular culture has long been full of robots, from movies like Alien and The Terminator to the Transformers our children played with. We accepted their presence as the industry emerged, but few foresaw the full societal ramifications. Now their presence is a daily reality and a growing influence on how we live, work, and learn. (more…)
I graduated from graduate school in 1982. I thought the key to my future was about keeping my head down and working hard.
It was. But, in retrospect, it was about much more, too. (more…)
I consider myself a pretty good mentor. I like to work with people coming up in the field – in my case that would be the culinary arts.
So when the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation asked me to be part of a CEO panel to discuss career trajectories at the recent Armed Forces Culinary Forum, I was excited. (more…)
Sodexo North America
We were about three-fourths of the way up the mountain and my friend’s breath grew rocky in the thinning air. He needed a break. He might need to turn back. The guide told the rest of our group to continue onward and he’d wait with my friend. (more…)
With the current government shutdown, certain food benefits and nutrition programs are impacted by reduced or terminated new federal funding. SNAP recipients are receiving full February benefits on or before January 20 automatically through electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is no longer receiving new federal funds during the current government shutdown. (more…)
In what feels like a lifetime ago, I was in my first year at Harvard Business School. I learned a tremendous amount that year – including one lesson that was more consequential than I thought possible. (more…)
Most new jobs come with a significant learning curve. There are new colleagues to meet, new systems to learn, new protocols to lead. But sometimes, the biggest learning curves are more personal – figuring out which life experiences can shed light on the challenges ahead. (more…)
In many communities, colleges and universities walk a fine line between “town and gown.” While cities are proud to be home to educational institutions, the difference in demographics between those on and off campus are often considerable. Conflicts can arise based on differences in socioeconomic status, educational opportunity, race and ethnicity, political viewpoints and immigration status, particularly in cities. (more…)
I feel like I just returned from the future. It was actually a trip to visit clients, teams and partners in Asia, but there were elements of campus life at primary and secondary schools that, I think, are harbingers of things to come worldwide.
This is good news, because at the forefront was sustainability. (more…)