(Originally published on Sodexo Career Blog)
During my 26 years with Sodexo, I have seen many Registered Dietitians grow their careers in many different directions within the company. Being one of those RDs, I know first-hand that the skills RDs possess transfer nicely into management roles. Patty Denton, Multi Services General Manager at IU Health Arnett Hospital, is the perfect example!
Her first job as a Registered Dietitian was with Sodexo, and she still going strong 10 years later. Patty's roles have included: Clinical Dietitian, Outpatient Dietitian, Clinical Nutrition Manager, Food Service General Manager and now, Multi Services General Manager.
"I never imagined I would be working for the same company for so long, but I have had so many growth opportunities with Sodexo that I never felt the need to look elsewhere," she said.
I was fortunate enough to speak with Patty about her career journey at this year's Food and Nutrition Conference and Exposition (FNCE) in Chicago, where she was recognized with the 2017 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Outstanding Preceptor Award.
MG: What led you to your current role at Sodexo?
PD: Early on in my career as a Clinical Dietitian, I seemed to gravitate towards management. I would volunteer to work on projects and take on other responsibilities, assisting the Clinical Nutrition Manager wherever I could. Next, I was a Clinical Nutrition Manager and loved that position but when the opportunity presented itself for a Food Service General Manager, I thought, why not? A couple years later, I was ready for a new challenge, which lead me to my current position as Multi Services General Manager. In this role, I oversee Food and Nutrition Services, Patient Transport and the Service Response Center at IU Health Arnett Hospital.
MG: What is the best part of working for Sodexo?
PD: I would say career advancement opportunities and company culture. Sodexo values its people, and this is evident through the opportunities they provide in training, career growth, networking and company groups that support their mission, vision and values. Sodexo values not just education, but life and work skills that a person has gained through experience. Within Sodexo, you are only limited by your own passions, desires and effort.
MG: Why do you think RDs make great managers?
PD: As a Dietitian, I feel there are skills gained through our training that aide in being a great manager:
- Change Process / Model
- Coaching / counseling of varied population groups
- Prioritization of responsibilities
The work flow and process of Dietitians in a clinical (outpatient or inpatient) setting is very similar to the overall themes of a manager's work. Overarching skills above that are vital to working with patients/customers and cross over seamlessly to managing an operation and frontline staff. While the messages may be different, the tools and process are nearly the same. These, along with highly useful soft skills such as time management, prioritization and relationship building that are frequently seen in great Dietitians can make for a successful transition into progressive leadership roles!
What does Patty's manager have to say?
After interviewing Patty, I spoke with her District Manager Chris Parker, who said he recognized her as a star from the beginning. "Patty was very influential and highly regarded. She has always taken on her roles with lots of excitement and motivation to make improvements."
Because of Patty's great success as a Clinical Nutrition Manager and the potential Chris saw in her, she was promoted into the newly created CNM / General Manager role. Chris refers to her as a "top performer" and when he sees new Registered Dietitians with great potential, he often says, "That RD may be another Patty!"
Leading the next generation
As you can tell, Patty has had an impressive career so far, and this is only the beginning. I mentioned in her introduction that she won an award at FNCE in October for being an outstanding preceptor, and that's because Patty and her team have hosted 2-4 interns per year from Purdue University and other programs since she first began as an RD. She said it's very rewarding to help interns prepare for their careers, and as a bonus, her team hires many of them for jobs after the internships end.