ABOVE: Experience has taught Deonny how to deal with unfamiliar situations like the ones she came across at the Invictus Games. PHOTO NEIL FENELON
By Deonny Zaroual
I’ve worked at the showground before so they know me, but working at the Invictus games turned out to be very special.
I made an enquiry in person at the Royal Agricultural Society showground office where they told me to go online and look at the SEEK job service. They hire a LOT of people there for various seasonal work, both paid and volunteer. Every time there is a big event or function, they advertise. So I put my name down for the Invictus Games in a paid role.
Before I did that, though, I had to have not only my up-to-date resume, but also a police check. With some jobs you need a working with children check. I am lucky that because I work with Figtree Conference Centre, Tim Fong the General Manager of Human Resources for Flourish Australia was able to help me out there.
Each day started at 5AM and ran through until 3PM, ten hour shifts. First thing, I’d go in and meet the duty manager then go through the security screening. You wouldn’t believe what was involved in that!
We had to go through four security doors, through a body scan including a hand held scanner, then there were the Police sniffer dogs! Before we could go in, we had to wait until the Police and the dogs did a sweep through. They checked EVERYWHERE!
My job was being in charge of a buffet which stretched from one end of the dome to the other. It was massive. There were 16 hot dishes, plus cold meats and salads. I had to liaise with the various chefs. There were four or five in the morning, then eight to ten chefs for lunch.
You might know that chefs have a reputation for being a bit rude. That’s one of the bad things about hospitality! I always have to deal with a bit of anxiety around rude chefs. Well, it didn’t surprise me we had a few problems at the beginning, but early on, the supervisor left and I became the supervisor in their place! I got the OK from the food and beverage manager to run my own show.
Someone had to take charge. I had to organise the buffet staff and liaise with the chefs to keep the food topped up. So I said to the chefs, look, this is our area and that is your area. We’ll stay out of your area and you stay out of our area. That way we won’t keep getting in one another’s hair.
Once we sorted that out, things settled down!
Another challenge was communicating with eight staff that I was responsible for. It’s a difficult thing to do when you have never met them before, you don’t know people’s names or how and where they have worked. You have to rely a bit on trial and error.
By watching how people worked I was able to move the more energetic ones into the roles requiring a bit more energy. The others I moved into areas that weren’t so crucial!
The work side of this role turned out to be the easier side. I had not realised it would be such an emotional period working there. That side of the story I’ll tell you in the article on the Invictus Games.