In February, Aramark Corp. lost the contract to provide commissary services to the inmates of the Philadelphia correctional system, and when that happened Jeffrey Scott's livelihood was threatened. Scott was the manager of the commissary, supervising 17 civilian workers and 30 inmates in what amounted to a major warehouse and fulfillment operation designed to deliver toiletries and other sundry items to the system's 9,500 inmates.
Scott, who lives in Overbrook and attended Central High School, began working for Aramark in 2004, recruited directly from the military. Over the years, he either managed food services or commissaries in several different prisons before finally being transferred back to his hometown of Philadelphia. When Aramark lost the contract, it kept Scott on the payroll as a fill-in manager in hopes that something would come up, but it didn't. So on Oct. 4, Scott was laid off.
Working in a prison system was a new challenge for Scott. "The most surprising thing to me," he said, "was how important the commissary is to the safety and security of the prison. The commissary, the food service and medical treatment are the three things that will cause inmate uprisings. As long as you provide good service, that keeps the inmates calm, which keeps the officers safe."
Scott knew very little about prisons when he started there, but knowing very little about his job at first is nothing new. He didn't know how to operate a warehouse, but he learned that on the job. Food service and running an institutional kitchen? Also new, but again he learned. Recruiting and human resources (he even recruited for the military at Central) was also new, but he learned and then took that same knowledge and used it again to recruit a more specialized force of doctors, nurses and medical technicians for the military.
When Scott joined the Air Force in 2004, he was in the middle of studying chemistry at St. Joe's University. That wasn't much of a credential for air traffic controller, but, in what turned out to be a life pattern, he soon completed training and took on that responsibility, moving up the ranks to become a supervisor and later assistant chief of standardization and training.
"The Air Force has given me a great management skill set," he said. Even though he's now been a supervisor of air traffic controllers, military entrance processors, cooks, dishwashers and warehouse workers, he thinks his management philosophy works anywhere. "If you give workers the respect they are due and you give them a clear line on expectations, it's all the same," he said. "As long as you take care of your people, they'll take care of you."
Scott says he's looking for any job managing operations. "The technical skills I can pick up," he said. "But management style can't be taught. It's something you have to develop over time."
Update: As of December 2011, Scott is still looking for work.
- Jeffrey D. Scott
- Hometown: Philadelphia.
- Profession: Manager, recruiter, trainer
- Experience: Managed food services and commissaries for prison systems, increasing profitability and safety. Developed a safety plan used by 41 commissaries and 17 food service organizations. Improved profitability in one commissary from $830 a week to $3,600 a week over a two-year period. Handled recruiting, training and supervision in the Air Force. Served as an air traffic controller.
- Education: Community College of the Air Force, associate degrees in personnel administration and airway science. Course work at St. Joseph's University.
- E-mail address: email@example.com
- Jeffrey Scott's resume
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The Inquirer is not endorsing this individual as a job candidate; potential employers should do their own background checks.
Contact staff writer Jane M. Von Bergen at 215-854-2769 or firstname.lastname@example.org.