Executive Commentary
Uncommon Strength: Balancing Strategic Planning and Serendipity to Accelerate Change
Jim Jenkins
Jim Jenkins
CEO, Universities East, Sodexo North America

The ability to accept change and its concomitant challenges and opportunities is an uncommon strength. University administrators develop complex strategic plans to grapple with economic, technological and demographic challenges and increasing competition as their students struggle with a multitude of changes and challenges. Concurrently, universities’ strategic partners strive to meet changing expectations prompted by these myriad factors.

Strategic planning is the road map that guides institutions in attaining their objectives. One example is outlined by Kevin Ross, President of Lynn University in Boca Raton, FL, in the latest chapter of Sodexo’s President to President thought leadership series. In “Strategic Planning and Opportunism: Leaving Room for Serendipity,” Dr. Ross presents a bold blueprint — and a distinctive and optimistic vision — for the planning process. Serendipity is defined as the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way, and Dr. Ross believes that it must be anticipated and embraced as part of strategic planning: “Purposely planning to reserve some institutional bandwidth and capacity permits us to explore and experiment with what might come our way. That is where the good stuff happens. Unforeseen opportunities that may have been previously unimaginable are made possible.”

Serendipity is the nexus between the plan and the opportunities. Sodexo is often called upon to design solutions that align with and support our clients’ strategic plans and help create opportunities to improve quality of life. Research informs our offers, including the Workplace Trends Report and the International Student Lifestyle Survey, as well as our expertise in sustainability and diversity and inclusion. The resultant knowledge of the marketplace and consumers adds value for our clients as we apply it in support of their strategic plans.

Reading President Ross’s innovative thoughts around strategy reminded me of our work just across the state at University of Tampa. Our experience there taught us a lot about how Sodexo’s Quality of Life service solutions can support our clients’ strategic plans. Faced with enviable unprecedented growth, the University needed to expand and renovate their physical plant, and they turned to Sodexo for answers. For nearly 30 years, Sodexo has been a valued facilities management partner on campus, contributing to higher recruitment, outstanding retention and recognition as a top university. Recognizing Sodexo’s ability to share the University’s vision, the administration turned to Sodexo’s Design and Construction Services team for most of its new construction and renovation projects, which yielded direct savings in renovations and capital improvement projects. Comprising more than $50 million in design and construction for the University annually, an additional 660,000 square feet was built over a six-year period, including LEED-certified residence halls and academic buildings. University of Tampa has found that a key advantage in Sodexo’s approach includes involving the campus facilities teams in construction projects from the beginning. This ensures that maintenance is taken into consideration in the design phase and enables the team to familiarize themselves with the new building so they’re ready from day one.

Innovation to improve the student experience is a strategic imperative. Sodexo’s forté is developing strategic partnerships that drive our clients’ desired outcomes and a highly marketable student experience. There are so many solutions to choose from today, with more on the way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Your personal data may be processed by Sodexo to deal with your contact request. This personal data is processed based on the legitimate interest of Sodexo of sharing information about its services. This personal data is processed by the authorized individuals in the Sodexo group and may be disclosed to external service providers, including from countries which are not considered as having an adequate level of protection. In the event that external service providers are engaged, contractual arrangements are made to ensure that such service providers comply with the strict privacy rules applicable and put in place appropriate safeguards to ensure an adequate level of protection. In accordance with the applicable law, you can exercise your data protection rights. For more information, please see the Privacy Policy.