Meet our people – Joanne Kirwan

Hospitality services management

Joanne Kirwan has been with Compass Group for 17 years and has handled many roles across different sectors.

Currently she serves as General Services Manager at Queensland Children’s Hospital. 

First starting in 2002 as Accommodation and Mess Manager at HMAS Harman under the ESS Defence sector, only a few months later, she was promoted to Site Manager, looking after the day to day delivery of our services for Defence including but not limited to Accommodation and Cleaning Management as well as Catering.  

When an opportunity presented for Jo to move across to the Defence College in Canberra where Compass Group offered a very dynamic and busy catering service which included a very successful events business, Jo jumped at the opportunity. Enjoying her time there for two years, in 2007 she was given the opportunity to join the ESS Defence team in Sydney in an Operations role based at HMAS Watson Naval Base where she remained until the latter part of 2014. 

“During my time with the ESS team in Sydney I was offered a number of training and development opportunities which included the Emerging Leaders Program, she shares. The program is designed to build professional networks with your peers from across the Compass Group Australia Business and assist in developing your leadership style and giving you useable skills to take back to your business.”

In her role, Jo’s teams supported several VIP Domestic and International tours and events at their sites including Heads of State. It also gave her a unique and closeup view into the wonderful and selfless work that our Defence personnel do in supporting and protecting Australia’s interests on the domestic and world stage. 

When an opportunity to move closer to her parents in Queensland presented itself in 2014, Jo took a FIFO Senior Operations role in Brisbane. 

Hospitality services management

“I packed up my life in the eastern suburbs of Sydney and moved to the sunshine state and joined the ESS Remote and Offshore team and commenced my Frequent Flyer roster between Darwin and Brisbane in the early part of 2015.”

Her role in Darwin included being responsible for feeding around 3,500 tradies who flew in from all over the country to complete the building of the ICHTHYS (INPEX) LNG Gas Plant. The Village, known as Manigurr-ma, had 3500 rooms, 350 staff, 44 Laundries, sporting and entertainment outlets as well as a huge dining facility. Jo and her team ran the maintenance, the gym, ensured the beers were cold and the meals were ready for residents which, at peak times, were upwards of 10,000 per day!  

Hospitality services management

“My role could be described as being part of running a small town with state-of-the-art resort style facilities. I made life-long friendships during my time on this project,” shares Jo. 

In 2016, Compass Group chose Jo to attend the Insights Leadership program in the UK. This program brings the top 24 managers from across the worldwide business together for an intensive leadership program.  

“I jetted off to London wondering how a girl who worked FIFO out of Brisbane could possibly mix it with my international peers at our worldwide headquarters. This opportunity grew my confidence and helped me to understand what I needed to do to get my leadership game to the next level.

“With this opportunity, I also understood that Compass Group is far reaching and the opportunities are endless. If you are willing to do the work and accept the offer when it comes your way, the company can deliver.” 

When the Manigurr-ma contract ended in late 2018, Jo was presented with the chance to apply to join Medirest in Brisbane as the General Services Manager for the Queensland Children’s Hospital. She started in the role in January 2019 in what was a “leap of faith into another area and brand of our business”.  

At the same time as starting her new role, Jo was also a part of the steering committee putting together a women in leadership program and was excited to be asked to join the pilot program.  

“I have recently completed the Ignite program and met an incredible group of talented women who are forging their own paths across the Compass Group landscape in all areas and brands of our business. I look forward to paying it forward for years to come as I get settled in my new role looking after a large multi service contract in an environment where the work our teams do each day makes a huge contribution to the lives of our smallest customers.” 


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