Now, seven years on from her role on that side of the catering fence, Helen has transferred her skills to another area of the industry – the production of hospital food, on the scale of 32,000 portions of food each day!
As the deputy catering opertations manager for Lifespan Catering Services, Helen is currently part way through her Certificate in Management (CIM) diploma – juggling a busy work schedule and family life alongside her studies.
Lifespan Catering Services is the catering arm of the NHS shared services provider Anglia Support Partnership (ASP).
Making the move out of one kitchen, and effectively into another, Helen joined Lifespan Catering Services in 2003 as a catering supervisor.
She said: “After leaving catering college and spending many years working as a chef and then running my own business, I felt I wanted a new challenge in a different field of catering and food preparation”
“At first it was quite daunting, although I have worked as a chef and was familiar with a busy restaurant kitchen environment and the pressures of running my own business, organisational policies, procedures, systems and the whole Human Resources element of the role was something I had to learn.”
Having taken part in ASP’s leader development programme, Helen rose through the ranks to her current post within Lifespan – where she is able to offer support and training to the 50 strong team at the Services’ base in Fulbourn, Cambridge.
Helen is one of just a handful of staff to attain sponsorship to work towards the Certificate in Management, with the course ending January 2011.
Helen said: “There are many elements of this role that I am thoroughly enjoying such as when I’m out about meeting clients to discuss and show how our system can be used to give best flexibility and service.
“I have developed many new skills whilst in this role, I am lucky in that I have a great mentor in my line manager and the Leadership Development Programme taught me a lot about ASP as an organisation as a whole, it opened up great networks within ASP that have come in very useful when it comes to giving good customer service to our customers, and I still have the advantage of my background in catering to offer teams additional support.
“The course I’m undertaking at the moment is opening up many new areas as I learn more about business management.”
Lifespan Catering Services prepare and produce well over 10 million portions of food to hospital and care home patients in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Leicester, Essex and London are all served by Lifespan Catering Services each year, through the ‘cook chill’ method.
Lifespan Catering Services deputy catering operations manager Helen Dakin - currently working towards her Certificate in Management.
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