You're the Logistics Manager for the Dakar Rally. Can you tell us what your role entails?
I'm in charge of operations, meaning I coordinate all the activities of ASO's many partners throughout the race, from managing airplane and boat transportation to ground operations and food services, etc.
Sodexo has been an official Dakar supplier for seven years. What do you think is the partnership's main strength?
Sodexo is a vital partner. It was our first experience in South America seven years ago and we had to totally remake our internal organization, which was based on procedures tailored to Africa. Sodexo's operations in South America, its professional expertise and its knowledge of the field helped us adapt to the new environment very quickly.
Which Sodexo area of expertise do you think makes the difference in meeting such a huge logistical challenge?
Sodexo's strength in an event like Dakar is, of course, its business-specific expertise, but also its extensive experience in other tough environments such as mines, offshore platforms—basically hard-to-reach places. Plus its speed of execution, which is vital in the shifting, nomadic world of Dakar.
What are the participants' expectations in terms of "quality of life" during the race?
The living conditions of participants are fairly precarious during the race. The bivouac serves as the competitors' "home": we have a responsibility to make their life there as easy as we can, by providing them with as many services as possible to create a minimum of comfort, even in the middle of the desert. Food services are key to the racers' well-being and an important opportunity for the 50 nationalities in the bivouac tent to mix and socialize. After putting in grueling days, this time is important to racers and our job is to promote their quality of life by offering them the services they need to relax and rest.
Does the 2015 race present a new challenge?
Every year we set higher goals to improve the level of service. This year, for example, we're setting up a bakery service in Chile and Argentina with Sodexo, where we will reheat the bread on site. It's a new challenge, but there are many more still to come!
How would you characterize the relationship between ASO and Sodexo teams?
The relationship between ASO and Sodexo teams is a key success factor. We started working together seven years ago and so we know the people we're working with today very well. This mutual trust enables us to meet the challenge together and go about our business calmly. Working in close proximity and talking things over are how we find solutions to every problem and make significant improvements year to year. We partner on other big events such as the Tour de France and have many values in common.