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Prioritising continuous learning is key to success: Sodexo UK Corporate Services MD Jade Boggust

IFM_ Jade Boggust
Sodexo UK Corporate Services MD Jade Boggust noted that for aspiring leaders in facilities management, prioritising continuous learning is key

Jade Boggust assumed the role of Managing Director for Sodexo’s Corporate Services business in the UK in June 2023. The business delivers a wide range of facilities management and food services to clients across various private sectors, such as financial services, professional services, media, technology, pharmaceutical, and FMCG. At the age of 33, Jade stands out as a notable and influential female leader making strides within the facilities management sector.

Jade joined Sodexo in 2021 as Business Development Director – Europe, leading its operational and sales teams to drive growth across 22 countries. Before joining Sodexo, Jade held key leadership positions in sales and operations, managing a portfolio of clients where the delivery of experience-led services was paramount.

Armed with expertise in energy and carbon, Jade has been instrumental in shaping Sodexo’s energy management, net-zero, and remote monitoring programmes in recent years. Her contributions have played a pivotal role in positioning Sodexo as a frontrunner in this domain, establishing the company as a trusted advisor to clients seeking guidance on decarbonisation initiatives.

Jade is a frequent speaker at FM industry events, previously serving as a Trustee for the Harrogate District Climate Change Coalition. Currently, she extends her support to young professionals in the facilities management sector by serving as a mentor.

In her interview with the International Finance Magazine, Jade Boggust, Managing Director of Sodexo UK Corporate Services, delves into the nuances of the facilities management industry, offering valuable insights on cultivating a positive work culture, harnessing technology for enhanced efficiency, adapting to evolving client needs and expectations, and a host of other pertinent topics.

Q) As the Managing Director of Sodexo UK Corporate Services, can you provide an overview of your leadership philosophy and how it has contributed to the success of your team and the organisation?

A) In the fast-paced and ever-evolving world of facilities and workplace management, I have learnt that the success of the business directly translates to leadership philosophy. Having worked alongside several successful leaders in my career to date, I have learnt from each of them how different leadership philosophies can influence different results. For me, however, the greatest success comes from empowering my teams, instilling trust, and owning the results, both positive and negative.

My role is to instil a shared vision, that my teams are inspired to play a part in contributing to and then supporting them in delivering this. Empowering my team is crucial for achieving operational excellence, by giving them the autonomy to make decisions within the framework of their roles. When team members feel a sense of ownership over their tasks and projects, they are more likely to take initiative, innovate and contribute to the overall success of the organisation. This, combined with prioritising individual growth and recognising achievements, leads to higher job satisfaction and increased productivity.

Q) Managing facilities management contracts for prominent global companies requires a deep understanding of their unique needs. How do you ensure that your team tailors solutions to meet the specific requirements of each company?

A) In managing facilities management contracts for large global companies, it is crucial to get to know our clients intrinsically. To quote Steve Jobs, ‘Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realise it themselves’.

This involves close collaboration with our clients to understand their brand, culture, expectations, ambitions and future plans. Whilst a number of our core services happen behind the scenes such as maintenance and housekeeping activities, a significant number of our workplace services such as catering, digital concierge, front of house, security solutions interact with our clients’ employees and their own clients. We map out our client journeys, so we are able to design the experience and adapt our service offering to reflect expectations at all touchpoints from the minute a guest arrives, to the minute they leave and form their lasting impressions. Regular feedback loops, continuous improvement workshops and a proactive approach to problem-solving contribute to the success of delivering tailored solutions for each of our clients and our leading high retention score.

Q) Given the dynamic nature of the facilities management industry, how do you stay informed about emerging trends and technologies, and how do you incorporate them into your strategic planning for Sodexo UK Corporate Services?

A) Staying informed about emerging trends and technologies in the facilities management industry involves continuous learning and industry engagement. This can include attending conferences, participating in industry forums, government events and leveraging professional networks. Incorporating these insights into strategic planning involves proactive analysis of potential impacts on operations, considering technology adoption and ensuring the team is equipped to adapt to industry advancements. Regularly reassessing strategies helps us to stay ahead in a dynamic environment, alongside leveraging data and insights.

As a global operation working within multiple sectors, we are able to collaborate with our colleagues across those different markets to learn from one another. Internally, we have significant innovation, strategy, and digital teams, who are constantly on the front foot with research into trends and client behaviour, placing Sodexo in an excellent position when it comes to gaining invaluable insights from data and information.

Q) Can you share a challenging situation you’ve encountered in managing facilities management contracts and the strategies you employed to overcome it, ensuring positive outcomes for both Sodexo and the clients?

A) For many businesses emerging from the pandemic, increasing costs – particularly energy costs – are exerting a massive amount of pressure to find cost savings. For businesses where cost-cutting is the main driver, outsourced services, such as FM may be seen purely as a cost and, therefore, one that the business may be keen to shed. The challenge, however, is that many of these services are critical to ensuring building compliance or the cleanliness and attractiveness of the workplace, and they are services that rely heavily on people.

Ensuring we can demonstrate our service provision is optimal is now more important than ever. Ensuring we have flexibility in our operating models to adapt to fluctuating building occupancy levels, deliver efficiencies in our processes and demonstrate engineering, housekeeping or helpdesk productivity now plays a key part. Technology underpins this; from automating routine tasks to demonstrating performance against our service agreements, to tracking energy savings we have committed to.

Many client organisations also now recognise that as a global facilities management provider, we are able to drive value in other ways, including increasing energy savings, delivering decarbonisation programmes and contributing to attracting and retaining talent through the provision of a world-class workplace.

Q) Employee engagement is crucial for workforce performance. What initiatives or practices have you implemented to foster a positive work culture within your team and, by extension, enhance the service delivery to clients?

A) Our employees are at the heart of our business and personify our values of Service Spirit, Team Spirit and Spirit of Progress. It is essential that we invest in them to succeed. In fostering a positive work culture, initiatives like regular team-building activities including with our clients, joint recognition programmes and open communication channels can boost employee engagement. Every employee also has a personal career development plan, with training opportunities, mentoring and talent programmes. Additionally, soliciting feedback and involving employees in decision-making processes fosters a sense of ownership. Circles, a Sodexo workplace concierge and community company, offers a Five star hospitality and community engagement programme which builds bespoke training programmes for our teams at each client location to ensure our colleagues are vested in the client brand, understand their role and feel part of one team. The positive work environment, alongside an industry-leading rewards and benefits package, contributes to our leading employee retention statistics and hugely motivated team.

Q) Sustainability is a growing concern globally. How do you integrate sustainable practices into your facilities management contracts, and what role do environmental considerations play in your decision-making process?

A) Sodexo’s commitment to sustainability underpins everything we do. From building onto clients’ net zero roadmaps and activating relevant areas, to supporting clients decarbonise their estate and integrating sustainable decision-making in future maintenance strategies, to driving circular economy practices from waste management to materials management and reduction of food waste with our AI tool; in each element of our service offering we are always driving the sustainable agenda.

For every client location, we complete a sustainability assessment and then work with our clients to baseline their performance and, in partnership, build a clear roadmap of initiatives incorporating sustainability metrics into key performance indicators to ensure ongoing commitment. We celebrate our achievements, learn from piloting innovations and also recognise that we can’t tackle this alone. This is why our accelerator programme works to identify start-ups in the sustainable arena to work alongside our clients to pilot solutions. We also host roundtables focused on sustainability challenges where client organisations come together to learn from one another and share success stories. We truly believe a collaborative approach to driving this agenda is key. Whilst we can go fast alone, we can go further together.

Q) Technology is transforming the way facilities are managed. Can you discuss specific instances where you’ve leveraged technology to improve efficiency, cost-effectiveness, or overall service quality for your clients?

A) Sodexo puts technological innovation at the heart of what we do to provide actionable insights, enhance the workplace experience, deliver efficiencies, drive decarbonisation and ensure the uptime of our clients’ critical assets. Our Digital Intelligence Hub in Manchester is at the heart of this process. Here our teams of specialist engineers and analysts run diagnostic checks on remotely monitored assets, derive insights from utilisation and occupancy sensors, use AI to automate routine tasks and support clients with their decarbonisation programmes. We then use this intelligence to adapt our services; whether it is realigning our maintenance strategies to a client’s decarbonisation programme or real estate strategy, looking at repurposing space to drive employee productivity or adapting our workplace food offer to align with consumer nutrition preferences. This intelligence is essential in the development and improvement of effective strategy and operational decision-making at Sodexo.

Q) The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the way we work. How has Sodexo UK Corporate Services adapted its facilities management strategies to address the changing needs and expectations of clients in this new environment?

A) Like every other organisation, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted our business and therefore meant we had to adapt to support our clients and ensure resilience in our business model. We harnessed our agility to diversify our services to meet the changing needs of clients. From providing flexibility in our workplace solutions to adapt to fluctuation in client building occupancies, to having workplace solutions for remote employees to feel part of an organisation even if working from home through the introduction of meal vouchers and a digital concierge, through to the activation of online ordering and payment systems to optimise catering solutions to employee preferences and reduce overproduction of food.

For many clients, our role has also evolved considerably from a facilities management provider to a strategic partner sitting at the table, supporting clients to reduce the total cost of occupancy, enhance the employee value proposition, lead their decarbonisation programmes and support real-estate strategic decisions.

Q) As a leader with plentiful experience in the FM sector, what advice do you have for professionals aspiring to leadership roles in the facilities management industry, especially those looking to manage contracts for high-profile clients?

A) For aspiring leaders in facilities management, prioritising continuous learning is key. It is vital to stay updated on industry trends, technologies and best practices as well as develop strong communication skills, lead with integrity, and empower your teams. Foster a mindset of continuous improvement and adapt to changing environments and client needs. Deliver what you promise and build and maintain strong relationships with clients built on trust.

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