2023 Women Of Live: Belinda Oakley
North American CEO | Sodexo Live!
Belinda Oakley has one word to summarize her first few months as chief executive officer for North America at Sodexo Live! — resilience.
“Coming out of the throes of the pandemic, where business was down 95 percent year over year, everyone pitched in to do their part and helped ensure a successful 2022, highlighted by an 80 percent employee engagement rate, a 99 percent client retention rate and the launch of a new Employer Value Proposition that redefines who we are and what we stand for,” Oakley explained. “It’s clear to me, our people are our greatest asset — especially now amidst today’s extraordinary business climate.”
A native Australian, Oakley brings two decades of food service management on three continents to her role leading 20,000-plus team members across 150-plus partner venues throughout the U.S. and Canada.
In 2023, Sodexo Live! has a lot on the company plate including the second annual F1 Miami Grand Prix in May at Hard Rock Stadium, the French Open at Roland Garros in June and the MLB All-Star Game at T-Mobile Park in Seattle in July.
“We see enormous opportunity with the events calendar in 2023, spurred by pent-up demand to travel and get back to in-person experiences,” Oakley said. “As always, we will prepare early and meticulously, so that we can overcome any potential staffing and supply chain issues. These both are commonplace in the hospitality world right now, but we have best-in-class culinary, human resources and procurement teams to ensure that we’re firing on all cylinders.”
This year, the company launched the first autonomous store in a convention center setting, with AiFi grab-and-go stores at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City. They also have plans to triple the number of Amazon Just Walk Out stores in 2023.
“I’m excited about the prospect of these solutions, so we can help our venue partners become the best version of themselves,” Oakley said, adding that preparations include “future proofing” operations.
“There is no offseason for us when it comes to innovation,” she said. “But it has to be innovation that truly serves our guests who come to spend valuable time with us.”