People of the Campus Lifestyle Evolution: Joseph Burdi

Published on : 8/23/23
  • Joe Burdi has worked with Sodexo for over a decade, managing campus operations in both Greater Chicago and North Carolina. Since 2017, he has led the North Carolina A&T State University dining program as the Resident District Manager, guiding the campus through several years of strategic evolution. As a Certified Executive Chef and Culinary Institute of America graduate, he never underestimates the power of delicious food in building community. We talked with him about his leadership and how he drives success for his team and campus partners.


    Interviewer: Tell us about your background in food service and management.

    Joe: I began my culinary career in downtown Chicago, working for a talented French chef who ignited my passion for food. I eventually found myself in culinary management, overseeing a dining program at Loyola University in Chicago which also included exclusive catering rights for the Archdiocese of Chicago. I won several American Culinary Federation competitions during my time there. My love for people and leadership eventually helped me grow into more operational roles at Northwestern University and Concordia University - Chicago before I came to North Carolina A&T. Today, I manage an amazing team of 15 managers and over 400 frontline employees and love collaborating with the students, faculty, and staff who make up our community so great.

    Interviewer: What are some of your responsibilities in your role as Resident District Manager?

    Joe: Higher education is an ever-evolving landscape, and our campus community is no exception, especially as a large, top-flight historically black college and university. As a trusted partner, it’s my role to support campus missions and values in our dining program and create a best-in-class experience. In 2018, North Carolina A&T launched a new campus strategic plan and since then our team has done whatever we can to support those goals. I’m very fortunate to partner with outstanding campus leaders who are supportive, collaborative and share Sodexo’s mission for student belonging and success. It’s such a pleasure to work with and learn from them.

    A big part of my job is also supporting the growth of our Sodexo team. We have many talented individuals who contribute to our everyday success, from student interns to frontline staff to managers. In my time at North Carolina A&T, I’ve helped promote two supervisors to salaried management positions. We also just promoted a student intern as our new regional dietitian for the state of North Carolina.


    Interviewer: What’s one of your favorite memories at work?

    Joe: Last semester, our campus won the first-ever Spirit of Thx :) Award for embodying the philosophies of Sodexo’s Experiences Matter program and creating a positive environment for our students and team. This hard work became evident last year when the students at North Carolina A&T submitted over 2,000 THX For Making My Day employee nominations. This was about a quarter of all Sodexo nominations in the United States, a true testament to our team members and the community they’ve created here. 

    Interviewer: You’ve worked at North Carolina A&T for 6 years – tell us more about the dining evolution you’ve experienced during your time on campus.

    Joe: The past few years have been filled with some amazing, rapid change. In 2018 we opened a new student center with seven dining locations and, since then, we’ve also completed several large-scale renovations at popular retail brands like Starbucks and Chick ‘fil A. One of the biggest changes, however, has been modernizing the campus with the integration of technology. In 2021, we became the first campus in North Carolina to launch autonomous food delivery robots and, since then, they’ve made over 112,000 meal deliveries. We were also one of the first to operate a ghost kitchen, which became a hub for several rotating virtual dining concepts. It’s been a lot of fun watching our dining spaces evolve and supporting our team as they embrace these exciting innovations.

    Interviewer: What do you like to do outside of work?

    Joe: My family is very important to me, and my son was just born a few months ago! I love any time I get to spend with them at home or on the Carolina coast. We love the ocean, and my happy place is fishing off my boat. I also really miss working in the kitchen, so I love to cook when I can. I have a YouTube channel, Joe Your Cooking Guide, where I share simple, restaurant-worthy meals anyone can make at home.


    Interviewer: As we enter a new academic year, how do you plan to enhance the student experience from your role in campus dining?

    Joe: One of my greatest passions is collaborating with student groups on campus. I love hearing their feedback and designing solutions that give students the dining program they want, expect, and deserve. What we do is about more than just delicious food – we’re also building community and doing our part to keep students happy, healthy, and engaged. I want our students to feel a part of the dining process, so they have a taste of home that makes them feel like they belong.