Ep. 11: Mia Mends, CEO of Sodexo Benefits & Rewards North America

Mia Mends is the CEO of Sodexo Benefits & Rewards Services in North America. She leads the strategic evolution and growth of the business, with a focus on delivering outcome-based employee engagement solutions through recognition, learning and well-being programs and platforms. To accelerate growth in these markets, Sodexo acquired Inspirus, LLC, in 2016. Inspirus is a leading provider of employee engagement solutions and is led by Mia under Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services.

Mia was amazing to speak with.  She has an authenticity that surrounds her that you don't find in a typical CEO.  

In this episode we cover: 

  • The importance of sponsors and how she built these relationships early on

  • What it means to be an authentic leader and how that has guided her

  • How to be successful when you are considered an “other”

  • The importance of taking risks in one’s career

  • Mia’s leadership philosophies & her tip for how to start meetings to help build authenticity within a team

  • Non-intuitive negotiation tips that helped Mia secure a large acquisition and that can also help you in challenging situations.


What is the best advice that you have ever received?

I don’t have to be fearless. You can embrace the fear and have the courage and the faith to walk through it.  Embrace the fear and walking through the fire in spite of the fear

What advice would you give your 20 year old self? 

Have more fun, enjoy the ride, don’t worry so much


This episode is sponsored by the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership at the University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.  The Center focuses on addressing issues related to gender and diversity by promoting a fair and equitable work environment. Their mission is to develop diversity fluent leaders, advance progress, and transform the power base through four functions – thought leadership, curriculum and teaching, implementation and action, and serving as the central hub for activity at the Haas School of Business. Follow them on twitter @BerkeleyEquity