Simon Harris - Commercial Bid Manager

Published on : 4/8/24
  • Simon Harris hit what he describes as his ‘lowest point’ at the end of 2016, when his double life came to an end and laid bare his lifelong gambling addiction to his friends, family, colleagues, and community.

    “By the time it came to light, I’d stolen millions of dollars to fund my gambling. It wasn’t that I was greedy or wanting to improve my life—I genuinely thought that I would be able to win enough to pay my debts back,” he said. 

    “It took getting caught for me to break the cycle and to re-evaluate a life-long relationship with gambling that had started as a kid going to the races with my family.” 

    Since a young age Simon had been placing bets on horses with his father. When he was old enough to place them himself, he was spending his entire pay at TAB machines around Perth. It was a daily habit which he managed to keep hidden from those closest to him. 

    His gambling addiction ended with a 6.5-year jail sentence for which he served 4.5 years prior to parole. Upon his release and wanting to rebuild his life, Simon sent out 108 applications to potential employers. 

    One response was all it took to change the trajectory of his life. 

    Now part of the Business Development Team at Sodexo Balcatta, Simon is an employee like no other with a public profile as a gambler and criminal. 

    He is the first to own these labels, and in the 2.5 years following his release Simon has added more labels to his repertoire; friend, colleague, recovering addict, and advocate.  


    Balcatta office life

    Sodexo’s letter offering an interview as an Executive Assistant was a golden ticket for Simon after being rejected 107 times by other businesses. 

    “It felt as if it were meant to be—that it was my way back into the corporate sector,” he said.

    “I was very honest about my background and situation during the interview. But more importantly I was clear and honest about what I wanted to achieve. 

    “Starting a new life in your 40s is no easy feat, especially in my case where I’d burned so many bridges with my decisions up until I was incarcerated.  I needed a new support network to develop a career that would suit my aspirations of doing better.” 

    Simon was shocked when Sodexo offered him the role—his honesty had paid off and it motivated him to make the most of this opportunity. 

    “The contract that I signed with Sodexo was for a maternity cover. When it was coming up to the end of my time with the business, I expressed my interest in trying my hand at something different,” Simon said. 

    “In June 2022 I moved into the Commercial Bid Manager role and have been here ever since. My key function is to develop commercial cost modelling on new tenders and contracts—that is, taking into account all the requirements of the contract and scoping food, labour, and other direct costs.” 

    A long road

    In September 2023 Simon celebrated 7 years without having placed a bet—no small feat. 

    “Since exiting the system I have been heavily involved in Gamblers Anonymous who have provided me with a safe space to not only reflect on my addiction but support others experiencing the same thing,” he said.  

    “The road to recovery is long, but by surrounding myself with people in my personal and professional life who believe in the value I have to offer, I know I am doing it and doing it well.

    “When I was charged, I took a long look at myself and I didn’t like who I was. As soon as the opportunity presented itself, I took full legal responsibility for my actions.“

    “Sodexo has always respected me and my commitment to change. In this environment, I am supported and championed to be the best version of myself while positively contributing to the team and work around me.”

    “Without the belief and investment of Sodexo, I don’t know what my life would look like.” 

    Championing ex-offenders

    As a business, Sodexo believes in equitable opportunity for all—regardless of background, race, age, experience, belief, or identity. We believe that inclusion is a business imperative and extends to individuals experiencing barriers to employment. 

    Sodexo has partnered with many State and Territory corrective services to deliver Justice to Work initiatives. The investment we make through these relationships supports ex-offenders to re-integrate into the community. 

    “When I joined Sodexo, the Country President and Diversity Equity and Inclusion Director invested a lot of time in not only understanding the experience and skillset I was bringing to the team, but also the support and structure I needed to fully embrace the business,” Simon said. 

    “The Justice to Work program is a personal passion of mine. I believe that everyone deserves a second chance and is capable of working productively—so long as businesses are willing to invest in making it possible for ex-offenders.”

    “The opportunity Sodexo gave me has changed my life. I am proud of the work I do, and how far I have come with their support.” 

    Sodexo is proud to provide employment to individuals to support their re-integration post-release.  

    Embark on a rewarding career journey with Sodexo! Explore our diverse job opportunities.

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