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Stories from the front lines: Sodexo’s new senior dining CEO on starting a job before the coronavirus struck

Zeta Smith, CEO, North America Seniors at Sodexo and former Starbucks employee, shares some inspiring stories of senior dining, the challenges there and being part of a new team.

Starting a new job at any time can be a bit stressful. But try starting a new job in senior dining at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. That challenge has been met by Zeta Smith, CEO, North America Seniors at Sodexo, who started her job in January and quickly learned the company and her team as she hit the ground running.

For 12 years prior to coming to Sodexo, Smith was a divisional senior VP for Starbucks, a position that helped shape her attitude toward work and challenges: “From my time at Starbucks, the idea of being a ‘servant leader’ stuck with me,” she says.

Zeta-Smith.jpgThat has translated to helping Sodexo senior dining accounts make this strange time as comfortable as possible for senior citizens, our most vulnerable—and isolated—population during this global pandemic.

“Being a global company was an advantage to secure PPE through our global and diverse supply chain,” Smith says. “Also, Sodexo as a global company provided me the ability to leverage and apply lessons learned with my counterparts across the world, such as Germany, China and Brazil. This was important to understand what was working with countries that were experiencing the pandemic earlier in the cycle, providing advanced knowledge and preparation for our U.S. senior segment.”

Smith shares her story and her main motivator to keep going—the creativity she’s seen in this field.

Contact Tara at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter @Tara_Fitzie

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