Get our best content directly in your inbox
Sign up
Food Matters - Explores Providing you with enriching partner content. Learn more
Partner content by Compass Group UK & Ireland Ltd

Cook up a career at Compass

James Halliwell
6 min read
AUTHOR: James Halliwell
Cook up a career at Compass

Compass loves food. It loves food even more than you. It loves food so much it’s involved in every aspect of it, whether it’s foraging for it, developing recipes, or serving it up everywhere from schools to hospitals, defence sites and across workplaces – around 6,000 sites in total. And to serve these millions of meals every day, Compass Group UK & Ireland offers a career to tens of thousands of people across the UK.  

Nick Vadis, Culinary Director for Compass Group UK & Ireland and Chef Ambassador to NHS supply chain, has worked at Compass for over 20 years and says: “This industry is a great place to be, and Compass has so many amazing opportunities. We are part of a global company, we work across sectors, we have fantastic partnerships and people, plus we’re growing. Without our people, we couldn’t operate, so as a company we are committed to investing in our talent and offering everyone opportunities to thrive and develop.”

Opportunities for all 

Nick says: “The infrastructure that sits behind Compass for culinary craft and personal development is second to none. We are all about our people. It’s given me loads of unique opportunities and we have so many examples of individuals who have joined and progressed, carving out amazing careers for themselves.”

Last year, Compass launched Our Social Promise, an ambition to positively impact one million lives by 2030, from both within and outside the organisation through job creation, education, training, community, and charitable engagement. Part of this strategy includes the development of its people, maximising training opportunities from apprenticeships, mentoring, its graduate scheme, and internal Career Pathways platform.

Moreover, Compass has been committed to support a diverse breadth of social enterprise businesses to create positive social impact.  Their award-winning work, pioneering sustainable causes across their supply chain with social enterprise suppliers, has allowed them to change lives for the better.

Leanne Turk is a great example of career progression at Compass. After joining eight years ago she’s now Executive Development Chef for Chartwells Independents and last year joined the first cohort of chefs that were part of the Forward with Marcus Wareing programme. The course is an enhanced programme which runs alongside a Level 4 Senior Culinary Chef or Level 5 Operations Departmental Manager apprenticeship standard delivered in partnership with national hospitality training provider, HIT Training.

Talent and progression

“We’re definitely an employer that provides opportunity, and that’s not just within culinary,” says Leanne. “We offer over 60 apprenticeships within business administration, front of house, back of house, finance and so much more.”

She says Compass also has created what it calls a ‘Talent Map’, so when people gain qualifications, such as apprenticeships they can see what they could do next. “We are trying to make sure they learn as much as they can, and over time we give them more opportunities, to the point where they’ll hopefully stay with us and continue to progress.”

Cook up a career with Compass

Alongside its industry leading apprenticeships, Compass also runs its Operational Graduate Scheme, which relaunched in 2019 and it’s going from strength to strength. The two-year programme gives a wide breadth of experience for graduates across varying sectors of the business. These people are usually passionate about service and want to develop their management career with the company. 

“We know that one hat doesn’t fit everyone,” says Leanne. “We have very flexible ways of working across all of our sectors, and one of our biggest focus points is how we nurture and retain people and make sure that everyone feels that they’ve got an equal opportunity to go on to a career pathway – whatever that might be. The world is your oyster!”

“We offer a huge variety of different roles. I’m in contract catering now, but I’ve done fine dining, I’ve done London hotels, I’ve done London restaurants. For me, it was experiencing every part of the industry. Having been here for eight years, I can honestly say it’s an exciting and rewarding place to be.”

Why Compass?

Despite the global economic rollercoaster of the past four years, Compass has seen a period of significant growth. As a business they have embraced innovation and technology to introduce smarter and more efficient operations. From frictionless purchasing, digital ordering solutions or cleaning robots, Compass is adopting new ways of working to deliver great services for their clients and customers, despite the economic volatility.

Leanne comments that one of the things she loves most about Compass is being creative and innovative – but with sustainability at its heart. Compass has committed to reach Climate Net Zero by 2030 and with 80% of Compass’ carbon footprint attributable to food, chefs are crucial to this agenda and can collectively make a massive impact for change. 

Cook up a career with Compass

Leanne said: “Learning to make our menus and concepts more sustainable has been key and something that the teams at Compass have embraced. The Forward programme has sustainability as a key theme, so I have learnt so much through this over the past year and a half and have been able to bring it back to my kitchen and the wider team.”

How to find out more 

Nick commented on the breadth of opportunities available: “The bulk of our business is providing nutritious, delicious meals to everyone from soldiers, sailors, workplaces, hospitals, schools, leading sports stadiums, University students and so many more. There’s enough diversity within that to move around our business to different sectors. Importantly it also gives our people opportunities, flexibility and learnings from across the industry.”

He’s also clear that even for those who are interested in food but may not have an exact career path mapped out in finer detail, that shouldn’t stop them investigating Compass to find out more about the careers it offers or learning about its latest initiatives.

Nick says: “If you’ve got the energy, the passion and the drive, you can go anywhere in this industry. If you come into food service, it can give you all the opportunities you want out of life. We are all about hiring the person, someone with potential who can learn and train on the job.”

Take a look at the opportunities to Join our Family through Apprenticeships and our Graduate Programmes or look at our recruitment pages to explore the many job opening we have at Compass Group UK & Ireland!