Don’t Stand on the Sidelines: Take Charge of Your Professional Experience
Lorna Donatone
Lorna Donatone
CEO, Sodexo Schools Worldwide President, Sodexo North America

This week, I’m attending an event that always energizes me: the Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF) Annual Leadership Conference. I’m excited to be here with more than 3,000 other attendees, including a very special guest―Sophie Bellon, Chairwoman of the Sodexo Board of Directors and Chair of Bellon SA. We’ll be taking part in a question and answer session today on the impact of women in leadership, a subject we are both passionate about.

The Women’s Foodservice Forum has a very singular focus on women’s career growth and the development of future leaders – they have even designed a curriculum that is preparing women to be more prepared, effective leaders. It is an experience I wish more women could be exposed to.

Many companies offer opportunities and even require employees to participate in professional training and development.  But I am here to tell you that while company-sponsored learning opportunities are great, they should not be your only form of professional growth.  It doesn’t matter if you are just starting your career or a 20-year veteran, nothing is as valuable to your future success as learning.  The experiences, wisdom, improvements and knowledge that are gained when you open yourself up or challenge yourself, are priceless to your future success.

I encourage you to take charge of your own career development and seek out opportunities that will grow your mastery of both the hard skills and the soft skills.  It is not always easy and the path is not always clearly marked, but when a career opportunity presents itself, you have to be prepared to step into it.

To prepare for those career opportunities, WFF has identified 12 core competencies, and offers year-long leadership development programming that includes all 12, grouped into three well-defined pillars:

  • Leading Self: Competencies that focus on behaviors necessary for all leaders to be successful in self-management and maintaining personal accountability in any role
  • Leading People: Competencies that focus on the behaviors necessary for all leaders to be successful in building and managing high-performing teams as well as maximizing strategic professional relationships
  • Leading Business: Competencies that focus on the behaviors necessary for all leaders to be successful in impacting and leading an organization

Everyone is accountable to build their own blueprint for success. Combine the resources and tools offered to you by your employer with other less conventional learning experiences.  Take a class, participate in industry training, shadow someone in a related field or join WFF’s leadership development program. Make your next career move to look for learning and development experiences that will open up new career opportunities.

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Lorna Donatone is the CEO of Sodexo Schools Worldwide and President of Sodexo North America. Ms. Donatone was honored with the 2015 Trailblazer Award from the Women’s Foodservice Forum and Chairs the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.  She is on the Board of Directors of Jamba Juice, is a trustee of the Culinary Institute of America, serves on the Tulane Business School Council and Chairs the TCU Business School Board.

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