Zia Ahmed

Senior Director

The Ohio State University

Serving as the Senior Director, Zia provides the highest level of oversight for over 30 dining facilities at The Ohio State University, which serves over 10 million customers annually. He is responsible for creating the vision and strategic directions for Dining Services.  He holds a bachelor's and a master's degree in business management from The University of Akron.

Zia has 25 plus years of college/university dining experience. Utilizing his Lean Certification and Six Sigma training, Zia continually seeks to implement process improvement tools and strategies into dining facilities. His leadership has not gone unrecognized. He has been the recipient of The University of Akron’s highest accolade, the Order of the Phoenix. His relationship with students has also been recognized by the residence hall student governing bodies at the University of Akron through the honor and appreciation that he received in 2014 when he moved to The Ohio State University.

He has been involved in the industry from the beginning of his career and has held multiple national and regional leadership positions in NACUFS (National Association of College & University Food Services) including the president of the organization. He has also been recognized by the organization and has received the NACUFS Midwest Distinguished Service Award, the Midwest Region President’s Award, and the Richard Lichtenfelt Award. He also was featured in Food Management Magazine as the College Innovator of the Year and received Foodservice Equipment Reports ‘Young Lion” award in 2015. He received the Distinguished Staff Award by The Ohio State University in 2019. The Distinguished Staff Award is the highest honor bestowed upon staff at the University for Outstanding Achievements, service, leadership and dedication to The Ohio State University.

In 2020, he received the Silver Plate award. For 66 years the Silver Plate Awards have been the industry’s most iconic foodservice accolade given out the highest level of Food Service professional by the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association.

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