From double-denim to the Queen’s honours list

Amolak Dhariwal
About the author : Amolak Dhariwal

Global Head of Finance Service Operations and Digital

Published on : 5/25/22
  • My first roles in finance after graduating were at a steam press factory in the English midlands, affectionately known as a ‘metal basher’s’, a role in the industry fashion, at the time when double-denim was all the rage, and at a watch and clock manufacturer.

    They were great initial roles for me. During this time, I qualified and had the opportunity to move out to Hong Kong to set up operations for the watch and clock company.

    Once I joined Sodexo, I stayed

    I joined Sodexo in 2003 on a temporary contract as a divisional accountant within the business and industry department for the UK. At the time, I wanted to stay in the retail and fashion industry so I didn’t think I would be with Sodexo for long. But guess what… once I joined, I stayed.

    During my time with Sodexo the role of finance within the company has evolved hugely. Sodexo was previously mostly a food services company but as the company has diversified, so has the role of finance. Bidding for deals to build and run prisons, for example, is very different to pricing a catering contract. To get the business deals, the pricing and the contracts right, finance is brought into the equation right from the start as a real business partner.

    I’ve enjoyed every role

    I feel that I have been lucky, I’ve progressed and moved relatively quickly through different roles and departments within Sodexo. But, when I think about it, I realise that I have always been drawn to roles which are likely to evolve and have always been very open with my managers that I would be open to new challenges.

    I am currently working as Global Head of Finance for Service Operations and Digital. The challenges and pressures are very different to working primarily with one country. I am learning new things each and every day, whilst working with fantastic teams from different cultures as well as being able to share best practice between colleagues around the world.

    I’ve enjoyed every role I’ve held, even in the ones which have seemed impossible at the outset.

    Inclusive organization

    My personal experience is that Sodexo is an incredibly inclusive organization. I’ve always felt supported by my managers and have managed very diverse teams myself. Over the years my colleagues have expressed an interest in my background and culture, but this curiosity has always felt positive.

    I find that Sodexo allows me to be myself. I get to bring my culture and upbringing to work with me. And I feel that Sodexo recognises that. I’ve worked for Sodexo for 20 years now so it’s difficult to compare my experience to other organizations. However, my colleagues who have left Sodexo, tell me the culture and values are not quite the same elsewhere.

    Passionate about improving cultural inclusion

    I’m conscious that I have just one experience and perspective and I don’t think we are doing enough to ensure that the positive experience I’ve had is the experience of every person at all levels of seniority.

    When the Origins network was set up for Sodexo UK & Ireland, a multi-cultural network open to all colleagues, I listened to other people’s stories, and it really brought home that discrimination does happen and that there is a real need to increase understanding of other people’s cultures.

    Whilst I was co-chair of the Origins network, we ran internal awareness campaigns to increase inclusivity and launched two training modules for Sodexo employees ‘understanding bias’ and ‘Race - creating an inclusive workplace’.

    I’ve recently been involved in a cross-organization mentoring scheme and I think this is something we should do much more of to break through any bias that exists. By raising cultural awareness we can hopefully pave a different reality for future generations, so that more and more people feel that they have never been discriminated against and that they don’t need a support network.

    Find out more about a career with Sodexo!

    This article was created by Amolak Dhariwal, Global Head of Finance
    Service Operations and Digital

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