Helping Sodexo find big rewards in small details

9/06/2015
When you manage a large workforce of some 4000 people across 160 sites in Australia, you need to be sure that you’re managing them efficiently.

If you’re not sure, you need Naveed Tahir (MBA 2014), who Sodexo recruited as an MBS student to help review the structure and make-up of its diverse workforce.
 
 
Sodexo provides a unique array of more than 100 integrated services lines, including catering, facilities management, concierge services, security, asset maintenance and hospitality services, in the corporate, seniors, education and resources sectors.

Naveed might not be the best workforce analyst in Australia, but he must come close. He graduated with honours in accountancy and finance from the top school in Pakistan and soon joined MTBC, a subsidiary of the US-based healthcare IT company Medical Transcription Billing Corp., which provides electronic health record, billing, transcription and practice management services.
 
“It was a very successful organisation and doing very well financially, but they realised that they weren't managing their talent as well as they could have, which got me interested in the principles of talent management and workforce engagement.”
 
Naveed next applied his skills in the HR department of Warid Telecom, a Pakistani mobile network operator, and was soon helping the company’s C-suite understand their workforce structure, demographics and needs.
 
He realised his keen eye for detail and ability to extract value for companies with a highly flexible  workforce were globally sort-after skills, so he came to MBS to get his MBA, broaden his management talents and gain international experience. And Sodexo is glad he did.
 

Big Savings

Sodexo in Australia is part of the French multinational that has more than 420,000 employees worldwide and annual consolidated revenue of over 18 billion Euro. It operates in a highly competitive market, where small savings can quickly become big gains.
 
“We’ve had several MBS students work on a number of projects over the past few years. The savings that have been recognised by bringing in people such as Naveed have been significant. We are bringing in people with a fresh perspective and a diverse range of skills.” says Sodexo Business Project Analyst Branka Vuletic.
 
Sodexo has placed several MBS students in projects to optimise efficiencies from its lean operations, including a graduate now employed full time in the company’s supply chain area. But Branka is particularly complimentary of Naveed and his contribution to the business.
 
“Naveed is one of the best students we've taken on from Melbourne Business School. He's effective and efficient and looks for initiatives, which is brilliant. And his Excel skills are, well, excellent.”
 

Fine Details

Naveed looks through the finer details of Sodexo’s workforce make-up without being restricted by a particular view point.
 
He reviews the company’s current workforce models to find a balance of efficiencies in labour costs, while ensuring Sodexo delivers the highest quality services to its clients and consumers.
“We need to recognise that some employees need flexibility in their working arrangements and others require stability,” Naveed says. “So we need to work out how to best leverage these requirements to get maximum output for the associated costs.”
 

More than an analyst

But it wasn’t just Naveed’s analytical skills that caught Sodexo’s eye.
 
“I was involved in interviewing Naveed, and he was very impressive from the get-go,” says Sodexo’s Change Management and Communications Manager, Tammie Evans. “He's really personable and was able to get along with everybody and deal with different stakeholders with no issues at all.”
 
Naveed is very grateful to Sodexo for helping him obtain permanent residency and work in Australia for longer than possible on his original visa. He says the opportunity to begin working for the company while still at MBS has proved “brilliant”.
 
“I have been able to engage regularly with the directors. The encouragement they give you and hearing how they are thinking about things really adds to your learning. That's been absolutely brilliant.”
 

 

Naveed Tahir (MBA 2014)

Why MBS?

Timing played a part. When I was looking for MBA schools, admissions to the US schools had passed but one criteria for me, whichever school I chose, was that it had to be the best in the region.
 
Even if a school was not number one in the world, it had to be the best in the region. If you went to the top-ranked school and then moved to a different region, you would lose some of the benefits because there's not such a strong alumni network, which is very, very important.
 
And I had a really good chat with the Program Director as well, who told me about the Faculty at MBS and its standing in the region, which were the main factors in my selecting MBS. I was looking for a top-ranked business school and that was MBS.



My cohort

We had people from people from almost 40 different countries, and it wasn’t just the demographic diversity but also the professional diversity.
 
We had engineers, consultants, accountants, sales analysts and even an architect. They each brought a different way of thinking about whatever case or business scenario we were discussing. That really enriched the cohort experience and the quality of the discussions, which was very valuable for me.



Valuable MBS add-ons

MBS helps you improve your team-working skills by putting you into syndicates in every General Management module. That really added to my learning.
 
The way MBS coaches you in how to network was also really helpful. It was a skill that I had to develop after coming to Australia, and MBS offers you a step-by-step way of learning to network.
 
The first part is the coaching from Career Services, and then there are events organised within MBS. They’re good because you meet people and start talking to them as they're already there, and later on, you can start calling up people.
 
MBS also takes a very practical approach to the MBA program. Almost all the course was geared to actual situations, and businesses, and case studies. Professors like Sam Wylie went well beyond the program to explain the structure of finance in the real world. That was really valuable.
 
It’s something every prospective student should definitely look into. It's very important to know how practical your MBA is. You can learn theories from a book, but it's experience that really adds value.