Chef Matthew Leahy

Published on : 8/4/21
  • “The lifestyle is really suitable for chefs, and I would encourage them to get into mining, especially with the rosters available - I’ve found that I have more family time.”

    Matt Keely

    At just sixteen-years-old, Matt had his first taste of work in the pursuit of independence, leaving school to start a chef job in his local pub in Ireland. Matt found he had a knack for the culinary trade, and, despite a brief return to study, continued to pursue a career in hospitality. 

    “After I finished my university study of computer networking and programming I travelled about for a bit, but went back to cooking again, naturally,” Matt said.

    His innate talent landed Matt a role in a restaurant, and, during his tenure, the restaurant earnt a Michelin Star! Regarding his restaurant peers as mentors, Matt was inspired to undertake diploma of cooking to further develop his trade. 

    Eleven years ago, Matt arrived in Australia a fully certified chef. Within a year, he became Head Chef in one of Australia’s largest hotel chains and earnt his residency.

    Matt made the decision to join Sodexo in 2019. 

    “I came to mining to actually take advantage of that two on one swing,” Matt said. 

    “The lifestyle is really suitable for chefs, and I would encourage them to get into mining, especially with the rosters available - I’ve found that I have more family time.”

    Entering Sodexo in a Sous Chef role, within a year he was promoted to Head Chef, but his career progression did not stop in hospitality. Just six months later, he took on the challenge of Assistant Village Manager and, over time, mentored into the Village Manager position. 

    A chef for 20 years, the largest teams he had overseen in the kitchen had been around 60 to 70 chefs. Finding himself as head of a whole village and multiple teams, the numbers alone were out of Matt’s comfort zone, but he met the challenge head on. 

    Sodexo team of Boddington

    “Something I’ve realised is that positivity and resilience are two really important factors of being a leader. If you generate positivity around you, it really, really has an impact on people, it changes the dynamic of the workplace,” Matt said. 

    “It’s about understanding the team that you’re in, and how different people develop. In the kitchen, you can be firm with some people, and they improve. But some you need to nurture and need to stand with them in the line to get their respect.”

    Matt shares that to be a good and fair manager you have to put the effort in. Within his first month of managing Wickham, he made sure to spend time with each of his teams to support and understand their roles better. Some time later, he still regularly steps into different roles to support teams where needed. 

    When asked to provide advice for fellow Village Managers, Matt suggested to, “get amongst your team, understand the individuals and use your experiences and skills to guide them in different ways.” 

    While personal growth is important to Matt, the growth of his team takes precedent. His renewed focus on safety has recently seen a team hitting 100 incident-free days which Matt humorously rewarded by being his team’s support worker for the day. 

    “By focussing on safety and supporting my team in achieving this, we all have the opportunity to do and be better,” Matt said. 


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