Helping Innovative Start-Ups Improve Quality of Life

Published on : 12/14/22
  • Sodexo Group Digital Partnerships Director Melissa McBride says she never thought she would get the job that she has today, but with persistence, she's working in the realm of innovation and technology. Read on for her perspective on breaking into the tech industry:

    Turning Data Into Insights

    When I was an engineering major in college, I would joke that I could probably figure out any job, except a sales role. I just didn't think that I had the people skills to excel at sales. After graduation, I worked in investment banking for a couple of years until I found out about a job at Nielsen, a data and market measurement company.

    The client management position was pitched to me as helping clients turn their data into insights. I soon realized that there was a massive sales aspect: upselling additional services and selling new solutions. Before I knew it, I was in sales — the one thing I didn’t want to do!

    However, I’ve always believed in having a change mindset; the idea that we can learn and improve at anything. And I did. I became inspired by successful salespeople and emulated their behaviors. I started figuring it out — and I eventually became pretty good at it.


    Entering the Tech World

    The skills I learned working in sales — learning to explain complex aspects in a simple manner and being able to sell people on new ideas — have helped me get to where I am today. After Nielsen I spent two years working on innovative partnerships and acquisitions at segmentation company Claritas before I joined Sodexo in 2019.

    In my current role at Sodexo, I seek out innovative start-ups that we can partner with or invest in to help Sodexo innovate. You wouldn’t think that I’d be doing a lot of selling in this role, but encouraging others at Sodexo to try new, untested but potentially revolutionary solutions is now a key part of my job. I feel like all my experience to date has come together and I’m able to make a real difference by bringing the newest innovation to the company. 

    It’s also really fitting that I ended up working in tech. I’ve always been passionate about technology. When I was very young, we had one TV and one computer in the house — I always chose the computer. I just loved figuring out new things.

    Since working at Sodexo, I’ve worked with some really disruptive start-ups. One of my favorites is Kiwibot, an outdoor robot that delivers food. Right now, the solution is being used on university campuses, but there is interest in deploying similar technology to enable food delivery in hospitals and senior living facilities too.

    Another is AiFi, an AI-powered autonomous shopping solution that makes it possible for students to grab food or essential items at any time of the day without needing to wait in line for a cashier or spend any time checking out. We piloted this program at the University of Denver and it boosted on-campus sales while adding a convenience factor for students.


    Enhancing Services Through Innovation

    It’s incredibly exciting to be one of the innovation experts connecting Sodexo teams with the newest technological solutions to enhance our services. I know that partnering with the right innovative start-ups can improve that experience, making a huge difference to the service we provide for our clients and consumers. The transformative impact we can have on the industries we serve, along with client and consumer satisfaction, when we deploy the right innovative solutions at our sites really motivates me.

    I also love working with the founders of start-up companies, who dropped everything and went all-in on a new business and who are constantly looking towards the future and trying to change it for the better. It’s so exciting to see what the future could look like through their eyes. My ultimate goal is to prepare Sodexo for that future as well! 


    Find out more about a career with Sodexo.