Lean In To The Fear

It’s a long way from childhood immigrant to corporate leader in America. This week’s guest on Our Voices Matter shares how leaning into the fear got her to the top. It might seem counterintuitive, but for Mia Mends, that’s the secret sauce. Her Ghanaian-born parents passed down the family recipe to Mia and her sisters. Fast forward a few decades and the proof is in the pudding.

Mia is Chief Administrative Officer at Sodexo, a food service and facilities management company with more than 400,000 employees worldwide. Over the last 9 years, this charismatic wife and mother has risen through the ranks, tackling one opportunity after the other — fear be damned! Working alongside entrepreneur and NBA legend, Magic Johnson, is one such opportunity that feeds Mia’s passion for helping others. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg for this woman on a serious mission. Her goal: to help women, especially women of color, ascend to leadership levels.

They’ve got quite the role model in Mia, a graduate of Wellesley College and Harvard Business School. She sits on multiple boards and founded a non-profit to help young girls. And in 2019, Black Enterprise Magazine included her on its exclusive list of highest ranking and most influential African American women in corporate America. Our wide-ranging conversation runs the gamut, from race and gender, to celebrating male allies, to juggling family responsibilities. Through it all, Mia’s intellect, authenticity and empathy for others shines through.

If you’re in need of a dose of inspiration, here you go! You’re welcome.


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