UCL – Two Weeks and Counting

Thank goodness it’s Friday. And I mean it even more this week than ever. It’s been a tough one – having only 2 days off in the last 19, working to deadlines that seem to pop up out of nowhere and aiming at goalposts that are shifting by the hour. Just your average new mobilisation perhaps, but it’s been a lot of hard work and nothing feels average about it.

UCL - Sodexo's new Education contract

UCL – Sodexo’s new Education contract

I’ve been part of the dedicated team that has seen Sodexo Education’s newest contract go live at University College London. Sodexo was awarded the three-and-a-half year contract in November, which went live two weeks ago. The effort and commitment of everyone involved has been inspiring – so many people have worked far beyond their call of duty to ensure that Sodexo has started in the best possible position.

But this is certainly no fairy tale – it hasn’t been easy and I can attest to the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into setting everything up (ok, maybe not blood, but there has definitely been a lot of sweat, and a not-insignificant amount of tears). Anyone who has been involved in a project of this size will understand the pressure, the uncertainty, and the all-too-often need for crisis-management. Thankfully, the start at UCL has been pretty positive but there have been ‘those’ days, and it has been on those particular days that I’ve noticed how difficult situations somehow seem to bring the best out in people.

After a particular difficult day in week one, I wanted nothing more than to smash my morning alarm into smithereens, roll over and spend the cold, wet day under the duvet. Instead, I was up earlier than usual, braved the London commute, and back into work with the (somehow) optimistic view that surely things would be a bit better. And it wasn’t just me – so many of my colleagues had appeared to do the same thing. And by colleagues I mean both those who are part of the mobilisation team, as well as those who had recently transferred over to become Sodexo employees. For the latter particularly, the uncertainty of change while trying to carry on doing their normal jobs must be incredibly stressful. And yet everyone has rallied, and somehow made it to the weekend with a smidgen of a smile.

Resilience – the ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever (www.psychologytoday.com) – must surely account for us all coming back day after day, even though we find ourselves wondering why we keep putting ourselves through it. Resilience is a key competency within Sodexo and highly valued – the term regularly pops up in interviews and Personal Development Reviews, referring to the ways in which we maintain personal effectiveness in all situations. This experience has been an example of resilience at its best.

Yes you can

The last few weeks have also been a manifestation of Sodexo’s core values – in spite of extreme pressure and adversity you probably couldn’t have scripted, we have continued to serve our customers proudly; and team members at every level have shown commitment and solidarity, all with the drive to ensure a seamless transition and progress to a smooth-running, successful contract.

Everyone involved in the mobilisation has done an incredible job, and I feel proud to be part of it. So to any of my colleagues reading this – sorry for snapping at you (I’m sure I have at some point!), thank you for the flowers, and here’s to a successful mobilisation. And to everyone else – Happy Friday!


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