General manager Kenny knows all the roles
Published: 11 May 2015
Name: Kenny Garden
Job Title: General Manager for Sodexo at Aberdeen Football Club
What did you want to be when you were young?
I wanted to be a draftsman or a Policeman, but was offered a trainee manager position with Sodexo at AFC and thought it would be a great opportunity, so I decided to take on this role.
What are the main career stepping stones you have taken?
I started at AFC as part-time staff in the kiosks on match days and have been lucky enough to progress from there. Since starting at the club, I have gone through roles such as kiosk assistant, kiosk supervisor, kiosk stand supervisor, bar man, bar supervisor, food supervisor, hospitality supervisor, trainee manager, hospitality manger, operations manager and now I have been promoted to general manager. I have had a lot of training with Sodexo from people onsite and outwith this unit, which I believe has helped me progress. I have also built a very close relationship with everyone at the venue and believe this has really helped me progress throughout my many years at AFC. We have had some changes within our current team for Sodexo at the club and what’s great is that we have all built up a brilliant dynamic which I think will really help us to achieve great things at the club. We are looking to mirror the success that the team has had on the pitch this season and I am confident that we can do that.
Are you scared of making mistakes?
I wouldn’t say that I am scared of making mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes along the way but it’s how you deal with them and how you learn and grow from them that is what counts the most.
A pet hate of mine is giving up. I think it is so important to give everything in life your best shot. After all, many would say that giving up could be perceived as a sign of weakness.
Who’s been your greatest influence?
I don’t think I could single out one particular person in my life as being my greatest influence. This is because I have been fortunate enough to have so many influential people within my career and personal life, which makes it hard to single someone out. I think everyone I have met has given me some sort of influence.
Best achievement so far?
I have two great career achievements. My first would be winning the award for the most-developed young person within the Sodexo in 2008, which was a real honour. My second has to be becoming general manager for Sodexo at AFC after 15 years of work at the venue. It has been such a great feeling to be promoted to this role and I am truly grateful to have been given this opportunity. I have some great ideas and having been at the venue for such a significant period of time really helps with my understanding of this role.
What do you want to achieve in the rest of your career?
It’s important to me to keep progressing within Sodexo and I would love to do this at my current venue as I am passionate about it. At this point in time, having recently been promoted to GM, I am looking to make a name for myself as a recognised and successful general manager, not only within Aberdeen FC and Sodexo, but also within the thriving hospitality industry in Aberdeen.
What has motivated you?
Aberdeen as a city is a great motivation, I really would love to be noticed here as it is my home town and I enjoy living and working here. This season, the club has performed superbly on the pitch and being a part of that has been really great; there has been a great buzz around the city and at the venue especially. All of these things are great motivation for me, as it’s important that we maintain great standard of service to ensure that we do the team proud and keep up with their success. We have recently implemented a brand-new team for Sodexo at the venue and I really believe that we can all achieve great things.
What’s the best way to motivate others?
I think setting a good example for my team is a great way to motivate others. Holding regular meetings to discuss schedules and have a general catch up creates a positive working environment and thus encourages the team members. I also think this helps to ensure that the team is supportive of one another and that we work together to raise the profile of Sodexo and AFC.
Your favourite stress-buster?
I love to exercise, with running being my sport of choice. It’s a good way for me to relax and rid myself from any stress or worries that I may have. As well, it is a great way for me to challenge myself. Working in a football club, fitness and taking care yourself is all around, so it’s a great motivator to keep fit and healthy. I recently completed my second marathon which was in Paris. I completed it in 3 hours 11 minutes and managed to knock 20 minutes off my time which was great. I like to push myself where I can and marathons are good for this because they require a lot of focus and motivation. I definitely don’t think the Paris marathon will be my last one.
What’s your dream job?
I would love to take up running full time. It is great fun and there are so many marathons held across the world that it would be amazing to be able to enter these competitions and see the world along the way.