Belinda Oakley Takes the Helm of Sodexo Live! North America
Leading hospitality partner Sodexo Live! has tapped proven international business leader Belinda Oakley as its new CEO, North America. Bringing two decades of foodservice management experience to her new role, Oakley is responsible for leading more than 20,000 team members at more than 150 partner venues throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Oakley replaces outgoing CEO Steve Pangburn, who will stay on with the company to help with the transition in an advisory capacity through the end of March 2023. Pangburn is stepping down in order to spend more time with his family in France, where he will continue working with Sodexo.
A native Australian, Oakley has led organizations on three continents, successfully leading enterprise growth strategies through operational excellence, innovation and the development of high-performing teams, according to Sodexo officials.
“It is impossible to put into words the level of excitement I have for this new role,” Oakley said. “This is a sector and industry I have admired for years now. We are just getting started and I look forward to serving the organization and bringing a new perspective to the organization.”
As an integral part of Sodexo’s Global Executive Committee, Oakley will report to Global CEO Nathalie Bellon-Szabo, who expressed her excitement in welcoming her to the team as the company doubles down on pursuing its ambitious growth goals.
“[Belinda] has an outstanding track record in commercial and business development,” Bellon-Szabo said. “With [her] leadership and capabilities, the talents and engagement of the North America team and the strong positive momentum of our business, I am confident we will be successful in accelerating our growth in North America.”
Most recently, Oakley was the CEO of Chartwells K12, a $1B business where she led 16,000 employees serving 2 million meals daily at 4,400 schools across the U.S. She has also held leadership roles for Famous Brands International, Brumby’s Bakeries and Benugo. She is also an honors graduate of the Executive MBA program at the University of Denver, where she still serves as an Adjunct Professor for the Daniels College of Business.
According to Sodexo officials, this evolution in leadership comes as a natural next step in the continued growth trajectory of Sodexo Live!, as it prepares for a milestone year in North America, from hosting the Formula One Miami Grand Prix at Hard Rock Stadium and the 2023 MLB All-Star Game at Seattle’s T-Mobile Park to an anticipated high-volume calendar of meetings and events at convention centers and cultural attractions. Its airport lounge business is also preparing to open multiple new premium lounge spaces with British Airways, as global travel continues its momentum toward pre-pandemic levels.
When asked what she will be focusing on first as she settles into her new role, Oakley said she will be spending as much face time as she can with the company’s various teams.
“The most important thing in the first few months is meeting with as many of our teams as possible in order to gain a complete appreciation for what makes us special, and then, with that understanding in place, it’s my role to help make it better than it is,” she said. “This could mean doubling down on our fantastic culinary team and empowering our people even further, so we can truly invest in our workforce better than any of our competitors.”
She added, “We have to always be anticipating what’s next, and I’m looking forward to ensuring we get ourselves and our venue partners there.”