Executive Commentary
The Most Important Lesson We May Have Forgotten
Bruno Vaquette
Bruno Vaquette
CEO Sodexo Seniors Segment Worldwide

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.

This can sometimes be more complicated than it seems. For me, the experiences were so far back that it took a conversation with my father to remind me.

But the ability to access personal experiences has provided more insights into my new role than a dozen years of experience might have.

“Oh, you’ll be helped by spending all that time with my patients,” my father said to me when I told him about taking over as Sodexo’s CEO for their Seniors Segment worldwide. I had been so caught up in the technicalities of the new role and the logistical changes for my family that I had forgotten how big a part of my childhood was spent getting to know seniors.

If many of us look back, we might see that our professional lives benefit from these unexpected lessons.

My father had been a physical therapist, with his mostly older patients visiting our home every day for their treatments. My brother and I did our homework in what doubled as our living room and my dad’s waiting room, so we got to know many of those patients through the years.

My father was very good at his job. His patients would say he was a magician. They clearly enjoyed their time with him. I remember the joy on their faces even if I didn’t recognize it then.

His patients usually came early and stayed late, spending time talking and laughing with us. We would learn of their histories and their families. Many were retired, some were widowed and some had families living far away. My father seemed to know they were eager for personal connection. His appointments were never abrupt or transactional. They were unhurried and as individual as each of them.

It’s a lesson that I learned without being really conscious of it until now. Now, I see that my industry serves seniors best when we consider their whole lives and wellbeing. Times have changed, certainly. But what remains true is when we make a personal connection and relate to one another as individuals, we can do so much more.

I can also now see that I chose this path because I had previously traveled part of it. I had learned key aspects from a master practitioner – my father.

I think if many of us look back, we might see that our professional lives benefit from these unexpected lessons. When we can figure out what the heart of those lessons are, we can elevate what we’re bringing with us to our role, whatever it be, every day.

 

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