Notre Dame Food Services Director Awards 2013

Author: Lisa Wenzel

January 11, 2013, Notre Dame Food Services (NDFS) announced the winners of the second Annual Director’s Awards.  These awards were created to recognize outstanding performance within campus food services.  Driven by employee feedback from both supervisors and staff, NDFS pursued means to further recognize our staff within food services.  The result was our three awards. 


The first, our Achievement Award, recognizes the achievement of a regular full or part time non-exempt staff member for improvements in productivity, problem solving, or finances, or positive customer satisfaction results.  Our recipient this year Susie Sheets holds one of the most critical positions within Notre Dame Food Services.  She is the bridge tying together the efforts of the Catering department and the North Dining Hall, which in addition to serving the student dining population, also serves as the main catering production unit for all campus wide catered events.  Susie is responsible for ordering the necessary food products for the catering orders taken by the catering sales team, including both internal and external catering customers.  This individual also plays an integral part in communicating the catering orders to each of the unit production areas within North Dining Hall.  In addition to revising and ordering product for all orders, she creates the packets of information necessary so that both the hot and cold production teams are able to execute each order.  Despite the vast amount of time and effort her duties require, Susie always takes the time to assist every employee who approaches her with questions or needs.   Whether they are calling to check their schedule, picking up a paycheck or asking for additional product, she is always pleasant and never makes anyone feel as though they are an imposition. 

As a consummate team player, Susie looks ahead to help the Production Managers avoid any pitfalls and ease their stress level.    She will go out to multiple stores to purchase a difficult to find item.  She double-checks her orders the day before the event to ensure that the product they need will be in-house.  We at North have coined the phrase “Susie check” which is a cross check of all future catering events, done each night by the closing production manager, to ensure we have the most current catering menus for events the next day.  Though her efforts may go unnoticed, Sue Sheets’ dedication to her job and coworkers is surpassed only by her kind heart and willingness to help others.  Her hidden achievement is the success of both the North Dining hall and satisfied Catering by Design customers.    

The second and third awards both recognize leadership.  These leaders need to be proven in exemplary work, teamwork, leadership, creativity, or organizational abilities.  One leader is honored from the non-exempt full or part time group and the other is an exempt manager.


Have you ever heard someone say ‘I would like to have ten more employees just like her.’?  Nowhere is this truer than at North Dining Hall and that person is Service Associate Nai Tran.  She personifies excellent customer service while always having a smile for you.   She’s always eager to assist her co-workers, students, and guests and does so without being asked.  You cannot help but experience a feeling of comfort when you are around her, almost like your family.

Yet, do not mistake Nai as a meek or docile person.  She is a natural born leader.  Nai has high personal standards for her own performance, and she sets the bar high for her co-workers.    Nai leads by example and is widely respected for her work ethic.   As a result, Nai was assigned to supervise the All-Sport Athletic Training Table housed at North Dining Hall in the F and Gold Wing which serves 200 – 300+ student athletes four nights a week.  In this area, Nai was responsible for a staff of five on-call Service Associates charged with maintaining hot food lines, a salad bar, deli bar, pasta station, fresh fruit station, frozen yogurt area, cereal station, and beverage stations.  This frequently changing area required Nai to be an integral part of determining how each station would be executed by envisioning the logistics, making suggestions, and constantly adjusting as needed.  Nai listened to the comments of Athletics’ two nutritionists, met their needs immediately when she could, and communicated their desires to North’s production staff.  This kind of scrutiny is stressful for the most seasoned leaders, yet Nai handled herself with poise and professionalism.

Her outstanding performance has spurred her continued development as a leader in the Rec Room at North Dining Hall, an area that features activities and products that are different than the normal offerings in the dining hall.  As the Rec Room is a concept completely new to North, Nai helps in the planning and execution of themes and activities such as State Fair week involving games of skill, corn hole tournaments, gingerbread house decorating, and jack-o-lantern carving.  She has helped to make this endeavor a great success as illustrated by the Rec Room at North Dining Hall’s Facebook page and its following.  Nai continues to show more concern about the operation than her own accolades.  When many would not step forward and take on these roles without the title, Nai conveyed concern for her co-workers and the customers.  She takes great pride and satisfaction in her personal performance.  


Mike Davy, Manager of Continuous Improvement is our final recipient of the Exempt Leadership Award.  Notre Dame Food Services has been faced with many challenges over the past year.  Among them the call to open not just one, but two new retail operations within a four month period presented a great challenge.  Seeing this challenge along with the other stresses that were occurring within the organization, Mike Davy stepped to the plate and volunteered to look and act beyond his position.  Mike offered to open the Au Bon Pain operation as its initial manager. 

Just making this offer of time, commitment, and leadership is a great contribution, but in addition to this, Mike has been a great leader in ensuring the operation opened on time under great stress and pressure.  To execute this challenge Mike has worked countless hours, recruited many staff members, and executed a very detailed plan.  Not only did Mike open on time, the location has been a great success.  Sales levels have been beyond expectation.  Individual customers have had positive feedback.  Student Government has expressed its overall excitement about the operation. 

This work demonstrates a great contribution to leadership because Mike stepped above and beyond to support Notre Dame Food Services.

Notre Dame Food Services is proud to honor these performers in excellence.