Global Chief Diversity Officer
Are you doing what you thought you would be doing when you started college? If so, you’re among the few.
It’s often unreasonable to expect 18-year-olds to know exactly what they want to do for the rest of their lives—but that’s precisely what the current model demands. That expectation creates a lot of angst and indecision as students adjust to campus life, which can affect retention, delay completion of the degree—and add more debt. Technology skills and impressive high school resumes aside, it’s no wonder that most students find the first years of college challenging. They don’t have all the answers (although they want us to think they do), so they struggle.
Leadership, emotional intelligence, and mentoring make a difference in quality of life. They’re certainly a winning formula for High Point University students, as detailed in the latest chapter in the President to President series, “The Importance of Mentorship in Higher Education,” written by High Point University President Nido R. Qubein. Instead of assuming that first-year and sophomore students’ early thoughts about their majors are gospel, the University’s success coaches guide them as they think through their goals and aspirations. And it works—these one-on-one relationships have proven to help students become who they want to be; 95% of all of High Point University graduates have a job or are enrolled in graduate school within six months after receiving their degree.
While successfully completing the degree is essential, students planning to enter corporate life also need to understand and adjust to the challenges it presents. Participating in an internship program like Sodexo’s Future Leaders program is invaluable—and it’s an antidote for the anxiety students reported in Sodexo’s International University Lifestyle Survey. Internships are an opportunity to develop leadership potential while gaining insights into career paths so students can figure out where they will thrive.
Sodexo interns gain practical knowledge through meaningful assignments, meet people who have been there and done that, and learn to lead and motivate a team to provide exceptional service. In addition to Culinary, Environmental Services and Facilities/Engineering Management, paid internship opportunities can also be found in Marketing, Communications, Finance, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Human Resources. Many interns obtain full-time employment with Sodexo after they graduate.
Beginning a career or a new job is challenging, and, like High Point University, Sodexo understands that mentoring eases the transition while maximizing potential and quality of life. Long recognized for leadership in diversity and inclusion, mentoring, and employee development, Sodexo has developed programs such as the Spirit of Mentoring, which enables our employees to proactively support one another through collaboration, goal achievement, and problem solving. The year-long IMPACT program develops future leaders with an eye toward diversity and inclusion, pairing experienced high performers, including senior leadership, and high-potential employees to develop competencies and leadership skills. Participants are overwhelmingly positive about their experiences, and many mentoring partnerships continue informally for years. Mentoring Circles are another highly sought-after opportunity. Led by senior managers, small groups of high-potential employees—mainly women and people of color—engage in peer learning experiences for a year to develop competencies, including strategic leadership, client relations, leading change, and more. In addition, informal peer-to-peer mentoring is offered to the members of nine Employee Business Resource Groups (EBRGs). This comprehensive mentoring culture actively promotes employee development with great results: higher engagement, higher retention, better operational performance, and career advancement— making it a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Rohini Anand, PhD, is Senior Vice President Corporate Responsibility and Global Chief Diversity Officer for Sodexo. She is responsible for the strategic direction, implementation and alignment of Sodexo’s integrated global diversity and inclusion initiatives, as well as Sodexo’s sustainable development, corporate social responsibility and wellness strategies. Dr. Anand is considered a pioneer and subject matter expert on organizational change and diversity and inclusion, she has authored several articles and has been published in numerous trade journals.