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The word the judges kept using to describe Marie Arthur, an account manager for Sodexo's contract at Transport for London (TfL), was "standout". Arthur, who has 30 years of industry knowledge and started as a chef in the armed forces, is responsible for 26 sites across the capital, from the centre of the city to the metropolitan outreaches of the operating lines.
Sodexo provides refreshments to London Underground staff, British Transport Police, the Metropolitan Police and London bus drivers across this huge estate.
It's a huge responsibility and one that Arthur has embraced since she came on board in the TfL business in October 2015 with a remit to drive staff engagement, improve sales and profitability, and reduce the cost of catering.
It speaks volumes that in 2016, Arthur was able to achieve a staff retention rate of 97%.
She is credited with always leading from the front in everything she does, but is also careful to consult with her team to determine what is right for the client and customer.
In the terrorist attack on London Bridge in June, she took the initiative with agreement from TfL to keep a site close to the attacks open beyond its normal operating hours to support the police and emergency services.
By engaging with the RMT union in a series of quarterly meetings, she has also managed to vastly reduce the amount of union activity on the country. This has helped Arthur exceed Sodexo's budget expectations by 4%. She has also encouraged her team to get involved in more food and drink events over the past year, including at the Sodexo Salon Culinaire in September 2016, where Sodexo received the highest number of entries ever from the TfL contract. And the team's efforts were rewarded too, walking away with three merits, three bronze medals and one gold medal.
Ideas such as Christmas 'markets' at each site have also been introduced to enhance the offer to customers, with handmade Christmas cakes, shortbreads and cookies on sale, resulting in a 5% increase in cash sales.
Arthur has also gone above and beyond her normal duties by arranging initiatives such as a 46-mile charity walk, which involved 10 people including a TfL client. Together they raised £1,800 for Sodexo's Stop Hunger charity.
And she hasn't stopped there. In 2017, Arthur organised a fancy-dress 'run' through Regent's Park in London, and a Snowdonia walk in June that raised more than £1,000.
The judges were impressed by her considerable efforts and had no hesitation in naming Arthur Regional Manager of the Year.
What the judges said
"A brilliant submission. Marie is clearly a standout operator who contributes significantly to her role at Sodexo. Her initiatives, personal commitment and attention to detail are clear."
Ronan Harte, Holroyd Howe
"A real standout. Excellent submission packed with innovation, passion and supporting material."
Simon Houston, Bartlett Mitchell
"Marie was the standout winner. She ticked all the boxes. She is doing exceptionally well and achieving results in a challenging environment."
Lucy Wright, Green & Fortune
Marie Arthur Sodexo
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