Director of Strategic Hospitality | Sodexo Live!
Food and beverage may be the cornerstone of the hospitality industry, but sustainability and diversity are important focal points for the future, says Lauren Mahaney.
“I think my generation puts a much heavier emphasis on local sourcing and sustainability and is willing to show that with our wallets,” Mahaney said. “Keeping that in mind as we design food service operations is something I am constantly striving to do.”
She puts her passion for sustainability into practice from recommending more local and sustainable products, to using alternate packaging like bamboo to divert waste from landfills.
“At my home I actually have some of our infinitely recyclable cups from Ball that we used for the 2019 Super Bowl and 2021 CFP National Championship — and still use throughout our network — and I love when people use them,” Mahaney said. “It gives me a chance to wax poetic about how we are eliminating single-use plastics.”
Mahaney points to several trends in the industry that support positive change including frictionless service, whether that is in the form of an autonomous store, a self-checkout market or loaded tickets that include the basic fan favorite food and beverages.
She is equally passionate about diversity and is eager to create additional opportunities for women enthusiastic about sports and interested in making it a career.
“Growing up, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you of any job a woman could have in sports outside of being a professional athlete,” she offered. “Now there are so many more. Whether in a position like mine, a F&B General Manager of a sporting venue, or even on the team or building side in marketing or operations. I look forward to seeing female representation in the industry grow even more over time.”
Having strong mentors was key to advancing her career after taking a class at Cornell university that was centered on the strategy of delivering hospitality in sporting venues.
In 2016 she joined Sodexo Live! (then Centerplate), as hospitality concept development coordinator for the in-house design-build team, the Hospitality Solutions Group (HSG). She was named to her current role in April 2022.
“I’d highly recommend that anyone interested in this line of work be aware that there won’t likely ever be a distinct line separating your personal and professional lives, but the reward of seeing 100,000 fans enjoy the food and beverage you have helped design truly makes it all absolutely worthwhile,” Mahaney said.