Spotlight on Sodexo DE&I: Meet Dana Beardy

Published on : 3/4/22
    • Time with Sodexo: 7 years
    • Location:  Keeyask Camp, Manitoba
    • Segment: Energy & Resources
    • Role: 2nd Cook 


    It was supposed to be an entry-level, short-term job. 

    Dana was just out of high school, with no solid plans. Working as a general kitchen helper with Sodexo at the Keeyask Generating Station project seemed like a good move. 

    That was seven years ago. Now, she’s a 2nd Cook, who has run kitchens and fed thousands of people in three provinces. 

    I wasn’t planning on staying this long, Dana says, laughing. I definitely did not anticipate moving up with the company. But I realized I loved kitchen life.

    A career was born.  

    Dana is a member of York Factory First Nation – one of the 4 Manitoba First Nations partners in this 695-megawatt (MW) hydroelectric generating station project. The Keeyask Project is home to about 2,500 workers spread across two camps. Dana says the remote setting felt familiar, because she grew up on an isolated reserve in northern Manitoba.  

    She knew people who worked for Sodexo, including family members who worked their way up from entry-level to management. The Keeyask partnership agreement guaranteed job training and opportunities for partner First Nations community members.  

    Sodexo had a good reputation as a place Indigenous people could thrive, Dana says. There’s a place for everyone here. If you don’t have the training or experience, Sodexo will make sure you get what you need.

    As a new hire, Dana says she immediately felt at home when she was assigned to a diversity training on Indigenous culture, part of Sodexo’s commitment to Indigenous communities

    There are so many Indigenous workers here, so they want people to be aware and educated, she says. It was really refreshing to see that they’re exposing everyone to the culture and to see that everyone was so open.

    It felt more comfortable in the workplace.

    Soon, that support blossomed into opportunity, when Dana’s manager asked her to take on a Salad Maker position. Six months later, she became a 3rd Cook, then ascended to 2nd Cook. 

    Dana learned to cook for thousands and explored many international cuisines, including Mexican, Asian and Indian – some of her favorites.  

    It was a big change from her mother’s cooking – one of the best cooks I’ve ever known, she says. At home, the community eats a lot of wild game – geese, ducks, moose, caribou and fish. Seasoning is salt and pepper. “Nothing fancy,” Dana says. 

    At work, she learned to use a wide array of herbs and spices to create complex flavors. 

    It was kind of intimidating at first, but my chefs were so open to teaching, she says. I was like a sponge.

    Dana loved the teamwork, pace and busy flow of the kitchen. Her talent and leadership potential emerged.  

    In 2019, she joined a team serving about 1,100 young athletes at the Indigenous Inter-band Games in Quebec. They worked out of two 40-foot trailers under a young woman chef. The language barrier was a challenge, but Dana was inspired.  

    Normally in the kitchen, it’s a man dominated environment. So, seeing a woman leader was really nice. Seeing all the indigenous athletes was very inspiring. It made me feel a sense of pride and belonging.

    Then, in 2021, she was asked to serve as Chef Manager at a camp for an Engineering, Procurement and Construction client in Northern Ontario. There, she oversaw a team of ten, feeding 200 workers every day. It was really different, being in charge, she says. I’m so lucky I had that experience of mass production.

    Now, back at Keeyask, she’s working toward her Red Seal certification, completing thousands of hours in the kitchen and getting ready to challenge the exam. She can rise to 1st Cook when she’s certified. 

    When the Keeyask Project concludes this year, she hopes to continue her journey with Sodexo. She’s looking forward to a bright future, doing the work she loves.  

    I love creating dishes – different flavor profiles. I’m like a scientist, doing experiments. It’s all trial and error. You can make it your own.


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