Sodexo Adriana Ortega,The Times Top 50 Employers for Women blog

A lovely article from Sodexo regarding one of their team winning and award. Adriana Ortega - The Times Top 50 Employers for Women blog

Adriana Ortega began her Sodexo career 13 years ago, working in the coffee shop at the previous London headquarters in Edgware Road.

Fast forward to today and she’s just started her new role as personal assistant to Sodexo’s CEO for Healthcare, Stuart Winters, and financial director for Healthcare, Joe Fraser. Adriana shares her journey.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved working in the coffee shop when I first came to Sodexo. I always enjoyed working with people, and I liked the fact that at the end of every day you had finished your job and didn’t need to take any work worries home with you. But at the same time, I am the kind of person who is keen to learn more; to pick up new skills.

When the coffee shop closed, I heard the Facilities Management team was looking to recruit for roles on reception. I applied, was successful, and became a receptionist on the executive directors’ floor. It was a good introduction to the role and learning the foundation skills such as meeting co-ordination, visitor hospitality and telephony.

When Sodexo moved to Southampton Row, I became part of the reception team at the new headquarters. Because I’d had experience with cash flow and profit and loss, I was asked to also cover some admin and accounting for the on-site restaurant. It helped me to improve my range of skills.

My progression from reception to my current PA role is all down to a fantastic mentoring scheme from Sodexo, which is designed to help customer-facing employees develop. It involves peer-to-peer mentoring, and the encouragement I’ve had from those around me has been incredible. Myriam Claes, a former personal assistant to Andy Rogers, Sodexo’s Global Government and Agencies HR Director, put her faith in me immediately and found time to mentor me. When I had initial doubts and thought I couldn’t make the step up, she said ‘you are patient, friendly and organized. The core skills are there. There are things you need to learn of course, but I’ll mentor you.’

My previous manager, Diane Jones, encouraged me further into the mentoring scheme and made time for me to sit with Myriam. Those sessions with Myriam were extremely valuable. However, when she left the business, I didn’t think I could carry on pursuing the PA role, although by this time I’d already applied for a PA position in the Healthcare segment, following encouragement from executive PA Bianca Angelico.

At this point, another PA, Lynn Terris, stepped in. She gave me the confidence to go for it, as I didn’t think I stood a chance of getting the role. I was competing with already established PAs, so I had no idea how well I would perform in interviews. When I was offered the job, I was completely blown away.

Lynn has been fantastic; I can’t thank her enough for the support and knowledge she’s given me. Since I started in January, she has taken me step-by-step through the requirements of the job. Lynn is precise, a perfectionist in every detail, and I needed someone like that to mentor me.

It is not only a new role for me, but also a learning curve in terms of understanding the Healthcare business and its operations. Stuart (Winters) is fantastic to work with – patient and always happy to explain anything. I never feel embarrassed to ask. Joe (Frazer) speaks perfect Spanish, which is a great bonus for me to speak my own language at work, and also drives home the diversity ethos of Sodexo. Greg Austin is very approachable and identifies and recognizes where I require more training and support.

I am only three months into the role and have already worked on some incredible projects, for example, working as part of the team organizing the Healthcare annual conference. I’m enjoying the opportunity to do things I have never done before.

In all honesty, I have always felt I have a lot more to give, with the right training. It is great that Sodexo has given me that chance, and I am extremely grateful.