Business Action on Employment: A Success Story from Sodexo

BITCI News - Nov 30, 2016

How Tony’s success story started: BITCI’s Ready for Work programme

Tony had been looking for work for over 4 years when he was referred to Business in the Community Ireland. As well as handing out CVs to various employers, he completed a number of training courses to improve his employability,but he reaped little benefit from his efforts. Tony found the process disheartening and very tough on his confidence. His job search was made more challenging as he was living in homeless accommodation:

“Being in the hostel it was just one day blending into the next: falling into a hole, getting out of a hole, falling straight back into it. It was just a nightmare”

When the opportunity to gain work experience with a reputable company came along through BITC’s Ready for Work programme Tony jumped at it, seeing it as a chance not only to gain recent experience for his CV but also to build his networks and secure a good reference.

Work experience with Sodexo in Davy Stockbrokers

Tony successfully completed 3 days of pre-placement training. At his mock interview the business volunteer from Davy Stockbrokers was hugely impressed with his attitude, and as a result Davy offered Tony a work placement in their post room. While not his exact interest area, Tony embraced the opportunity to build his experience. After a week he was transferred to the hospitality department in Davy where he spent a lot of time working with Sodexo chef Philip.

A recommendation and Tony’s first job in 4 years

Davy highly recommended Tony to Sodexo Account Manager Joanne McGrane, and indeed he made such an impression on her that she resolved to find a position for him. This first job was working split shifts as a cleaner in HBSC. He found the shifts extremely challenging. Joanne said,

“He had a few niggly issues. More than anything I just think he was just trying too hard. He was really throwing his heart and soul into this job”

 Fortunately, Tony moved position with the support of HSBC manager Paula as well as Joanne. He took a part-time kitchen porter role with Sodexo in Central Bank and has progressed to full-time work, half of the role being Chef’s assistant. Chef Manager Colin Byrne speaks highly of Tony’s attitude:

 “Tony is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever worked with…. No matter what you ask him to do he’s very willing, very obliging.”

Sodexo’s Values

While working Tony has continued to deal with health issues and challenges related to homelessness. He attributes getting through some of these tougher times to the support from his colleagues in Sodexo:

 “They sat me down, talked to me, treated me like a human being and showed me help that was out there if I needed to talk with someone, just made me feel secure….they really go far out of their way for their staff, they really do”

This support of staff comes from the top down according to Joanne:

 “…we believe our staff are our greatest asset. So we tend to put a lot of effort into training them, to mentoring them… they’re very loyal to the organisation”

Tony has been working in Central Bank Iveagh Court for nearly a year now and has plans to work towards qualifying as a Commis Chef, then Sous Chef. Tony’s confidence and self-belief have increased considerably – something he firmly attributes to his Sodexo ‘family’.

“…I lift them up and they lift me up – I know if I Ieft tomorrow I would remain friends with these people for the rest of my life”

Taking action that is good for the community and for business

Tony’s experience with Sodexo, their client companies and BITCI show how work placement programmes can bring rewards to all parties. Joanne would like to engage even more and encourages other employers to do the same:

I believe there is a huge opportunity there for us. Our sector is growing, and we love to get staff who want to come and learn, who are willing to put in the effort and reap the benefit.

It’s not just of benefit to me personally or my company, it’s of benefit to the community and it’s tackling that group of people who have kind of fallen between the cracks. I know that when I sat there with Tony I thought to myself, that could have been me….it could happen to any of us. There are a lot of good people out there who need just one little opportunity.

To get involved with BITC’s employment programmes you can contact the MST team or see Business Action on Employment

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