Sharon Eliatamby

Business & Industry/Foodservice Management Category

Sharon is Senior Project Manager for Food and Catering Services at the World Bank Group (WBG), she oversees 24 food service facilities, several contract vendors, and 200 employees, as well as the conference center at the World Bank office in Paris.

Born and raised in Ipoh, Malaysia, Sharon has called Washington, DC home for 20+ years. Before joining WBG, she was the Director of Food and Beverage at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center. She was recently elected President of the Society for Hospitality and Foodservice Management (SHFM), becoming the first Asian woman in this role. Sharon is a graduate of Johnson and Wales University.

In Her Own Words

How did you get your start in the foodservice industry? 
At a very young age I was hired as a banquet server at the Shangri-La Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. My first day on the job I was assigned the duty to serve the Prime Minister of Malaysia! At 16 years of age and no prior experience, it was a leap of faith that my supervisor gave me this grandfather would later encourage me to continue my education in the United States at Johnson and Wales University. It was there that I was introduced to the Corporate Dining aspect of hospitality....It was love at first sight and I have never looked back.

What do you enjoy most about your career in foodservice?
It takes a certain kind of personality to be successful and thrive in this crazy business of ours. When I think of what first led me to choose Hospitality as a career, several things influenced me, but those that led to my decision were my love of travel, my love of trying new and different cuisines, and my curiosity of how things got done behind the scenes.   

Tell us about a proud moment you’ve had along the way. 
My proudest moment was when I was elected to be President of Society for Hospitality and Food Service Management (SHFM) on October 18, 2022. I’ve been in the hospitality industry for over 30 years, and never would I have ever thought that I would be President of an association that has a huge impact in Corporate Dining where I can make a difference. I am very proud to be the first Asian woman in this leadership role, and I am committed to lead the change for this industry.

How would your team describe you as a leader? 
My team would describe me as a compassionate yet firm leader.  Once I have gained confidence in a team member’s ability to deliver on their individual work program requirements, I allow them the opportunity to navigate the daily tasks without intervention.  However, if they experience challenges or obstacles that prevent them from being successful, they know I am available with an “open door” policy. I trust in my team to do a good job and I have taught them that mistakes are an opportunity for learning.  

What advice do you have for someone new to the foodservice industry? 
Be proud of what you do no matter what your role is in the operation. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.  From the dishwasher to the server to the manager, we cannot exist without one another. Don’t be afraid to find your own style on with your customers, but remember it’s about them and not about you. 

What does being an IFMA Silver Plate recipient mean to you? 
I am humbled and honored to be a Silver Plate winner...What it means to me is that my work here is not done, there’s more to be done and I am excited to get going. I am inspired by this quote by Julia Child, “The measure of achievement is not winning awards. It’s doing something that you appreciate, something you believe is worthwhile.” 

What is your favorite meal? 
My favorite is when I get to share a meal with family and friends. Growing up in Asia, family-style is a must and I truly miss that. I do love my mom’s cooking and of course, let’s not forget rice and noodles!