Maeve Boland

Becoming a leader can be quick, but feeling comfortable might take time

Maeve Boland
About the author : Maeve Boland

General Services Manager

Published on : 5/31/22
  • Maeve Boland is a General Services Manager based at the DePuy Synthes site in County Cork, Ireland. She joined Sodexo in 2018 as a graduate trainee and now leads a team of 70. Not one to shy away from a challenge, Maeve also coordinated our SheWorks job-shadowing programme. She talks about her leadership approach, challenging assumptions and being patient when your confidence falters.

    A great balance 

    I love how diverse my team is, in all senses of the word. From chefs to security officers, men and women, ages 18 to 80 and from all over the world. We run cleaning, catering, security and light maintenance services for the 1,200 employees at DePuy Synthes, a Johnson & Johnson company that makes medical devices like artificial hips and knees.  

    I lead a team of 70, and I see my role as making their lives easier. If I do that, including by being a voice for their ideas, we’ll improve how we deliver for our client. Making changes to how we operate and finding those efficiencies isn’t as clinical as it sounds. It’s about a better working day. 

    Learning to lead 

    I had to learn confidence at home, because I have three older brothers, but I think I get my drive from my mother and grandmothers. Like all Irish women, my grandmothers were prevented from working in certain jobs once they were married. That law was only repealed in 1973, and I think that’s partly why I feel compelled to push myself and take on new challenges. 

    At home, I was taught to treat everyone equally, and doing that consistently is so important at work. No one wants a boss that leaves the office as one person and shows up the next day as someone else.

    I also speak to everyone in my team the same way as I’d speak to my CEO. I might not always feel as confident as I sound, but that’s a different issue. Maeve Boland

    Challenging assumptions 

    I joined Sodexo on the graduate programme as a trainee manager and was promoted to General Services Manager two years later. It doesn’t matter how well you know your stuff, leading your first client meeting in a room full of older men is daunting. I prepped to within an inch of my life because I feel that credibility is assumed in men but must be proven by women. Thankfully, I have a male boss who’s supportive without speaking for me and a client that openly champions female leaders.  

    Despite my team getting good results, it probably took me six months to feel comfortable in the role. In fact, that’s probably the best advice I can give women who are new to leadership: be patient. You won’t be the first woman to suffer from imposter syndrome, and you won’t be the last. Be kind to yourself while things settle. 

    Trying new things 

    I was fortunate to have been a trainee manager here on site, so I could see how things worked before I got my next move. Being able to dip your toe in the water before you leap is really beneficial, and I got to help others with that through SheWorks. That’s Sodexo’s job shadowing programme which pairs women with other women who work in different roles or sectors, particularly ones that are traditionally male-dominated. 

    SheWorks is a global programme and I got to coordinate it in Ireland last year, which was a fantastic experience. It was clearly enjoyable for the women involved and it was hugely rewarding for me. It gave me renewed confidence in my abilities and reinforced what I already knew, which is that Sodexo doesn’t just talk about diversity, it also takes practical steps to deliver it.   

    Diversity matters 

    Diversity and inclusion genuinely matter here. It’s part of daily conversations, not a side-show. And I only need to look at my team to see how important this is to performance. Our diversity gives us strength because everyone brings something different. Some of my colleagues are absolute rock stars that know their jobs inside out, and others are relatively inexperienced but brimming with ideas. Put those things together and you’ve got yourself a super group! 

    Contact us > Open sharing and other actions