Operational Resilience in Time of Need

About the author : Stephanieg Hertzog

CEO, Sodexo Energy & Resources, North America & Head of Global Energy Strategic Accounts

Published on : 11/1/21
  • A storm stirring painful memories

    It was an eery feeling when we realized Hurricane Ida was predicted to hit the southern Louisiana coast sixteen years to the day after Hurricane Katrina made landfall. For those who lived in the Gulf Coast in 2005, the impending landfall triggered painful memories of devastation. When Hurricane Ida struck the region on August 29, she wiped out an extensive network of power grids and caused significant wind damage. More than a million homes and businesses were without power, and a considerable part of the population was displaced or trapped in their damaged homes, including thousands of Sodexo employees.  

    Fortunately, all our Gulf of Mexico employees were safe. However, some lost their homes, many lost their cars, and almost all experienced some sort of loss of property. Most were out of power for 10-14 days in the scorching heat, and many were still without internet days after the power had returned. 


    Getting operations back up and running

    While our office fared well, the shipping port for our Gulf Coast operations—Port Fourchon—suffered significant damage. Although our employees were facing their own personal challenges and extreme discomfort, they were also faced with completely overhauling our operations.    

    Our team did a yeoman’s job accommodating our clients’ needs. With no electricity or access to computers and brutally hot temperatures, our warehouse employees sent orders piece by piece via text messages and handwrote packing and dispatching lists. Pallets were wrapped and loaded by hand and delivered as quickly as possible, and shipping points had to be changed from Fourchon to Galveston, TX and Cameron, LA, causing significant alterations in the supply chain to ensure food safety. Despite these operational constraints, all orders were fulfilled, thanks to the dedication of a small team, amid their personal challenges. 

     Our emergency response to Louisiana-area sites operated by Sodexo included deliveries of  

    • 2000 gallons of unleaded fuel and 1800 gallons of diesel fuel for generators and daily service use
    • Refrigerator units for cold food storage, ice, pallets of bottled water and dry foods for food service to employees and clients
    • Trailers for temporary office space, with desks and chairs, as well as additional trailers for bathrooms, including cleaning services   

    Additionally, our teams provided support on the grounds, including perimeter and tree cleanup, security services, fence repairs, generators and cooling/charging stations.  

    Even as our people were all in some way affected by the hurricane on a personal level, our national team pulled together to get operations back up and running in a matter of hours. It takes technical experts and a robust supply chain to pull this off.  

    Our team’s expertise in ensuring business continuity showcases our commitment to ongoing service and support when clients are faced with unpredictable circumstances. 

    Thank you to our heroic teams for their resilience, agility and their outstanding work! This is what the Sodexo Spirit of Service is all about.

    – Stephanie Hertzog, CEO, Sodexo Energy & Resources, North America & Head of Global Energy Strategic Accounts

    A version of this article was first published on the personal LinkedIn account of Stephanie Hertzog, CEO, Sodexo Energy & Resources, North America & Head of Global Energy Strategic Accounts