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From a five-star resort chef to acting general manager of a Bupa Aged Care home, Darren Almond knows that you need to be brave to find a career you love.

Here’s Darren’s story:

I wanted to be a chef from day dot.

Growing up in the Hunter Valley wine region, I always wanted to be a chef. So, I left school in Year 10 to do my chef apprenticeship and worked in vineyards until I was qualified. Then I made a big move to Cairns to work in a resort. I really struggled moving away from home and working in a different environment. For the first time I was doing massive bulk production of buffet food. This wasn’t elegant winery dining anymore!

From there, I moved across to a five-star property to become a sous chef, then an executive sous chef. I was quickly ticking all the boxes and knew I couldn’t keep doing the same thing day after day. That’s when I found a chef position in a hospital.

Being a chef in a hospital kitchen changed everything.

Working in a hospital opened my eyes to a new world of catering – I learnt so much about all the special dietary requirements and texture modified foods.

When I moved back to Sydney, I continued on this path and took a chef manager role in an aged care home. I was working for a contract caterer on site, overseeing the preparation and cooking of all the residents’ meals. It was such a big change but I loved it.

I ummed and ahhed about moving across to Bupa at first.

I don’t like change and am very loyal – I’d been with the contract catering company for 11 years as an Operations Manager looking after several Aged Care homes in the state.

Then, an old colleague who worked for Bupa Aged Care told me about an opening for a regional hospitality manager at Bupa. We’d worked closely together a few times and I really trusted his opinion, so when he said it would be perfect for me, it got my attention. Looking back now, he was right and I’m so happy I made the move.

At Bupa, we make a difference and that means everything to me.

One of the biggest reasons I moved to Bupa is to make a difference. The problem with working as a contract caterer is that you never have ownership over what you do. You can suggest changes to the home’s catering but if it’s outside the scope of the contract, your hands are tied. Working at Bupa gave me the opportunity to make real change happen and really own it.

As regional hospitality manager, I was travelling around to about 20 Bupa care homes across New South Wales and South Australia. This gave me a deep understanding of the homes and I worked closely with the General Managers to support them to make the right changes. Now, as acting General Manager at Bupa Aged Care Willoughby, I focus on making an impact for our residents here.


I have access to so many supportive people.

When I first started at Clemton Park as Assistant General Manager, I was a bit overwhelmed being in a new role. But it didn’t take long to realise I had a whole community of people around me ready to help. Now I work closely with General Managers in other care homes. If one manager has a problem, we’ll all brainstorm a solution together and we learn from each other. They’re not five minutes down the road, but that doesn’t matter because I know I can reach out to them whenever I need support.

We exist to improve the lives of our residents.

At Bupa Aged Care, we all have the same goal. Everything is about improving the residents’ health, lives, and happiness – and that’s what motivates me. I always like to put myself in the home as if I were a resident here, so I can really understand what needs to be done and see what would make me happier.

Sometimes it’s the small things that make our residents happiest.

I love seeing the impact of the little things we do for our residents. We recently reintroduced barbecues, and even though I’m a chef, I’m not doing the cooking! Instead, the residents cook as I supervise and we chat and have a laugh. At the end of the day, seeing them happy is what matters most to me.

We are encouraged to be brave.

One of Bupa’s company values is “Brave”. But it’s not just a word – it really means something here. We are encouraged to be brave to suggest ideas, make changes and try things. Not all of those changes work, but that’s okay, so long as we’re trying. At Bupa, the leaders are always open to ideas and I feel supported to be brave and make things happen.

I love that I’m learning every day.

Being a part of Bupa, I’ve had constant access to great leaders who have given me opportunities to challenge myself and learn new skills. One of my biggest achievements is working with the e-learning project team to create new training videos from scratch. The training has been rolled out to homes nationally and I’m really proud of it.

My advice? Ask lots of questions.

Whether you’re starting a new role or you’ve been there for years, don’t hold back. Look at your leader as a mentor, ask lots of questions and learn.

Join us and be at the heart of it.

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