Commitment to ex-service personnel

Published on : 6/25/20
  • Before joining Sodexo, Mark Baker, managing director for the company’s government and agencies business in the UK and Ireland, spent over 31 years serving in the RAF. Mark knows first-hand what it feels like to leave the military and the challenges ex-service personnel and their families encounter when transitioning from a military life to a civilian one.

    mark bakerMark is proud of Sodexo’s commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant and its efforts to provide employment opportunities at every level to those leaving the military.  Here Mark talks about Sodexo’s commitment to ex-service personal and its long-standing partnership of almost 15 years with SSAFA, the armed forces charity. 

    As an employer Sodexo recognises the value, knowledge, talent, qualities and skills that ex-service personnel and their families bring to the organisation. As a veteran, Sodexo’s support in this area is of great interest to me and I am proud to be part of a company that doesn’t just talk about its commitment but lives it and challenges itself to improve in every way it can.  

    The employment of ex-service personnel has been one of the key targets within Sodexo’s Public Service Pledge since it was first published in 2015 and we have real examples of how the company has provided employment opportunities at every level to those leaving the military.

    Oliver smithOliver Smith is a centre manager, he joined us in 2014 as front of house team leader at a large PFI MOD barracks, during his time in this role he undertook an interim role as manager of the barracks club before taking on the role of centre manager in February 2017. Oliver now oversees the day-to-day running of the PAYD restaurant, Costa Coffee outlet and Costcutter store. 

    Oliver, commented:

    After spending five years with the Royal Navy taking up a role in the FM industry has been an easy transition. The industry offers similar structured processes and a clear leadership vision much like the Armed Forces, and working on an MOD site feels like coming home after working in various restaurants on the high street before joining Sodexo.

    Another is Jamie who joined Sodexo four years ago as general services manager in our corporate services business. He then went on to an account management role in a brand new prestigious public sector contract we were awarded at the beginning of 2018. Jamie now oversees a 650-strong operational team including 24 managers.  The team provides 54 services across am estate portfolio comprising over 240 buildings. 

    Jamie said:

    I am extremely proud of my military career which spanned 24 years. I was a little apprehensive about leaving the military but found the transition extremely easy. The leadership and values I gained from my diverse military career allows me to work within familiar and unfamiliar contexts and most importantly gives me the ability to inspire people to be the best they can be. As ex-military never underestimate the value that you bring to the private sector. The foundation and total understanding of the importance of the team will make you stand out from the crowd as a true leader.

    jamie thomas


    Research from armed forces charity, SSAFA has revealed concerning misconceptions over the benefits of hiring ex-servicemen or women and as a partner to SSAFA for over 15 years we have been keen to help SSAFA address this and were one of the first companies to sign up in support of its Friendly to Forces campaign which was launched in October 2019 aimed at encouraging more UK companies to challenge their perceptions about hiring service leavers. 

    More recently we are proud that two of our senior leaders from our Government & Agencies business have undertaken training as part of SSAFA’s transitional mentoring scheme and are now both supporting their mentees as they transition from military into civilian life. 

    Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic they have not been able to provide face-to-face mentoring but they are using various other IT services to ensure they are able to communicate and support their mentees. Having served in the RAF for many years and having experienced the stark differences between military and civilian life I know how important this scheme is.  Rachel Evans, our HR director shared her thoughts as a mentor earlier this week.

    Our support of SSAFA continues through sponsorship, employee volunteering and fundraising, and through Sodexo’s Stop Hunger Foundation providing valuable financial support to SSAFA’s homelessness fund.  You can read more about this on our Stop Hunger website here.

    Sodexo was one of the early signatories of the Armed Forces Covenant and in 2017 was awarded the Gold Employer Recognition Award, the highest badge of honour from the Ministry of Defence, in relation to our commitment and support to the UK Armed Forces Community.

    I am proud to work for an organisation which has a long history of working with, and supporting the armed forces community including clients, charities, military personnel and their families.