UPTOWN Professional Jun 26, 2014

Sodexo’s Tag Team Gerri Mason-Hall and Aster Angagaw Master the Art of the Possible

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Aster Angagaw recognizes that having a fulfilled life requires effort and continuous evaluations. Finding balance for her is about having clear values and prioritizing accordingly. “It is important,” explained Angagaw, “to be mindful, and the focus should not be on equal time but rather on quality of time. It should also be about joy and achievement of desired results, not guilt and duty.”

Prioritizing and unrelenting assessing must be the keys to her success. Angagaw is the Group Vice President of Global Transformation on a special task force that has been appointed by the Global CEO to accelerate the transformation of Sodexo as the leader for Quality of Life Services. She reports to the Chief Transformation Officer. “In this role, I have a global responsibility as the change lead, working with teams around the world.”

Prior to her current position, she served as Senior Vice President of Market Development in the U.S., leading business development strategies and teams for the Corporate Services and Leisure division. “Although my background is operations, I have also had other opportunities including leading strategy, offer development, as well as client relationship management,” she shared.

“I have personally benefited by the direct mentorship of George Chavel, CEO of North America, Michael Norris, COO and President of Corporate Services, and others. Most importantly, I have benefited by the presence of many strong woman leaders in Sodexo who have served as role models and direct mentors to me.”

Angagaw also noted that currently women represent 50 percent of the Global CEO direct reports at Sodexo. These woman leaders have provided guidance and mentorship for her as well. She has also had the aid of her family. “None of this would be possible without having a very supportive husband and daughter who keep me focused on what is important but encourage me to do well at work and at home.”

There have been many changes in Sodexo since she joined the organization. The most significant evolution has been the transformation of the business from mainly food service to a leader in quality of life services. Additionally, the company has transformed itself to the leading company in diversity and inclusion and continuously ranked in the top two for several years. Sodexo has also received the coveted Catalyst Award, and has also been recognized as the Company of the Year by the Executive Leadership Council.

“I am very proud to be part of a company that not only creates an environment of diversity and inclusion for each of the 400,000+ employees worldwide, but changes the conversation at many dinner tables around the world. The impact of Sodexo’s effort in this space is far reaching in its employee base. This kind of success could not have been achieved without the absolute commitment of the Global CEO, Michel Landel, as well as George Chavel, our North American CEO and the hard work of our Global Diversity Officer, Rohini Anand.”

When asked how she gives back, Angagaw said she tries to give at every opportunity, to friends, family, colleagues, and the community. It can be kind words, encouragement, and a listening ear. So, just as she was encouraged by some very strong and powerful women, including her late mother and her sisters, Angagaw has what she hopes are inspiring words for young women looking to advance in their career. “My advice to young women is to not stay still, to continuously seek opportunities, and to know that career growth is not linear. Go after what you have passion for, prepare for it, take the risks and never become complacent. Always challenge yourself to take on more opportunities, and the rest will follow. Finding a good mentor along the way and learning from every interaction is also key. You can always find a good nugget of learning from everyone you encounter, so make it count. Always look for ways to help others, whether in your personal or professional life. And do not give away your power. Remember that many times you may be more influential than you think.”

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