Vivian Smith-Del Toro
VP of Operations, Sodexo
MY GREATEST STRENGTH
My greatest strength is self-confidence; I believe in myself and possess intellectual agility. Although I have acquired excellent business acumen, as well as analytical and planning skills, through education and experience, it has been my drive and self-confidence that have always benefited me most.
My husband, Andres Del Toro, inspires me. Andres is my number one supporter and motivator. Although I earned the role of vice president through hard work and dedication to my craft, it was my husband’s encouragement that drove me to aspire to the role; his support was paramount in my achievement. Andres is an extremely talented carpenter and builder, and I am as proud of him as he is of me.
HOW I LEAD
I believe that as a leader you must first be motivated to lead. Then, you must support your team by doing the following:
- Showing respect
- Delegating—giving people opportunities to be responsible and holding them accountable
- Recognizing effort, as well as actual success
- Involving others in decision-making
- Praising team members
- Getting to know people
- Building a diverse team
- Creating and celebrating success and supporting work/life balance
OUR GREATEST CHALLENGE
The greatest challenge we face is affordable and accessible education and health care.
I currently represent Sodexo as a board member for the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and chair the Workplace Well-Being Committee. As a board member, I have the ability to influence corporate and community policy that affect the African American Community. I also volunteer to teach, host, and participate in or lead a variety of youth activities in my church and community.
As a member of the Women’s Food Service Forum and the COO Forum, I have had the opportunity to learn some of the most important lessons in my career. Although mentors are important, having an advocate and sponsor is imperative.
HOW I FIND BALANCE
I pray. My relationship with God is paramount in maintaining my balance. Balancing your life must come from within. When you put things into perspective, you find peace and happiness. It is your choice to find joy in life and make decisions that will benefit your future and improve your moral values. In order to find a life balance that will bring you peace and comfort, you must get in touch with who you are and what you want to accomplish.
Overall, the more positive you are, the more you can achieve in life. I have learned to have a sense of humor and find laughter in everyday happenings. The more positive you are, the more you will accomplish. Keeping negativity away and finding joy in each day, setting realistic short-term and long-term goals, will help you find a healthy balance. One more very important aspect to maintaining balance—surround yourself with people that believe in you, and care about you and your success.
I love to love, laugh and live. To thyself be true. To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others, but you do need to accept yourself. To accomplish great things, you must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.
Learn your company’s culture, continuously study and learn your craft, and focus on innovation and technology.