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When Sodexo Australia was awarded a 10-year, US$1.87 billion contract to provide facilities management services to Rio Tinto’s Pilbara operations in 2016, it was a milestone in more ways than one.
For the facilities management and food services business, it was the largest contract it had ever won globally. For Managing Director Keith Weston, it was his greatest professional achievement.
The deal encompassed the ports, towns, aerodromes, operational sites, accommodation sites, commercial buildings and residential properties of the remote region’s sprawling energy and resources community.
The contract has certainly kept Sodexo Australia busy, but now, the company is seeking to strengthen its footprint across Australia’s energy and resources sector.
“Our success over the last five years has established Sodexo as the industry leader and partner of choice for many organizations across Australia,” Weston tells The CEO Magazine.
“In the next 18 months, we’ll be looking to further expand our capabilities and offerings in all Australian markets. Australia’s eastern states play a key role in our country’s energy and resources sector.”
It’s an evolution that is part of a period of transition for Sodexo Australia, which divested its aged care, education and corporate contracts in 2021 following a “strategic business decision” to focus on the energy and resources sector.
“It has ultimately enabled us to bring a focused agenda to our clients, and is a large part of why we are experiencing steady growth and higher retention rates,” Weston explains.
In line with this vision, the coming 12–18 months will see Sodexo Australia continue to “enhance and refine” its service lines, bringing new technology to its network of more than 100 sites across the country. The company’s advancements in IoT have supported its clients across many areas of the business, including resource optimization, remote monitoring, energy management, sustainability and safety.
“The operational environment we find ourselves in inspires us to be future focused in our business models,” Weston reflects. “The facilities management industry requires constant reinvention from companies such as ours to leverage data and innovative technology to achieve greater efficiency.”
An example of this was Sodexo Australia’s deployment of assisted reality glasses, which he explains allow “full visualization of remote client sites” from its metropolitan support center 1,500 kilometers away. “Using the glasses, our team can see through the eyes of on-site field workers,” Weston says.
“This provides real-time insight into how on-site assets are performing and enables the team to provide accurate and timely support to field workers.”
Sodexo Australia has also introduced pioneering advances in food safety, a crucial element of the company’s success, by drawing on the immense potential of IoT.
“This works by eliminating manual temperature readings and manual kitchen equipment adjustment with the use of sensors. These take real-time data captures and automate adjustments that remove human error and ensure optimum food safety,” Weston shares.
This constant pursuit of excellence is ingrained in every aspect of the organization, with all its employees sharing a passion for service.
“There are many things that set us apart, but for me the most important part of Sodexo is the culture,” Weston says. He adds that Sodexo Australia works with companies like Evolve Talent to find people perfectly aligned with its ethos.
“At Sodexo, you work for a large organization with amazing opportunities to develop and grow, however you still feel as if you are part of a family business,” he continues. “Our values represent a common thread of stability, inclusion and respect.”
This is evident at every turn: from fostering a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion, to engaging Indigenous communities in the areas in which Sodexo Australia operates. In June this year, it inked a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ngarluma and Yindjibarndi Foundation Limited to empower the local Indigenous community of Ieramugadu (Roebourne). This provides training pathways, employment, knowledge sharing and sustainable business enterprise.
As part of its “Better Tomorrow 2025” corporate responsibility strategy, which supports its objective of being a global citizen, Sodexo Australia, a signatory of Stop Food Waste Australia’s Australian Food Pact, is committed to reducing food waste. It is pursuing this via partnerships with organizations such as surplus food marketplace Yume.
“Sodexo’s people-first approach and culture of continual improvement sets us apart in the marketplace. On-site and throughout our business centers, our desire to do good and lift one another up is tangible,” Weston stresses.
“Our clients choose to work with Sodexo because they recognize and feel this culture. They know when they engage us on contracts that they are entering a collaborative partnership that prioritizes the wellbeing of their employees.”