Employee of the Month: Duty Manager Deja Bednarz at URBNSURF Sydney

The first thing I notice about Deja is that she has that omniscient-lifeguard vibe on lock. And my impression is that she is absolutely, totally aware of each and every mis-step on site – from that unattended wax ball on the lawn to an errant protein bar wrapper. We wanted to ask Deja (pronounced Dee-zsuh) what it’s like being the morning shift manager at the world’s busiest wave pool here in Sydney.

How many duty managers are there?

So we have two full timers. I’m one half of that full-time team. And then we currently have three casual duty supervisors to fill-in in between, as we’re open seven days a week.

What is a typical day like and what do you have to do?

So I opt and do the early opening Duty Manager shifts. I come in in the morning at 5 a.m. it’s nice and cold at this time of year, and then I basically check if we’ve had any sick calls. I grab my keys, I grab my radio, and I basically start opening the park doing my equipment checks. I know what staff are coming in and I manage them. If someone has called in sick I’m making sure that we can still operate the park with the numbers that we have or whether I have to call someone in. I liaise with facilities, making sure that the pool and the chlorine is ready to go, that the wave machine is working and I can start programming waves for the day.

Sydney Wave pool URBNSURF
URBNSURF‘s second location in Sydney has a considerable footprint. Deja appears to be aware of absolutely everything happening on each square meter. It’s impressive, and a bit scary – like really, how does she do that?

You program the waves?

We do. We have a wave panel and then a little menu sheet. And then depending on what the selection of waves are for the day, we use that sheet to do our wave program for the day.

Do you have a big red stop button like in the cartoons?

We do. We have an emergency stop if we need to shut off the waves all of a sudden. A few areas in the park have them and that’s how we would do that if we needed to.

You’re from Sydney and you live here and the traffic can be, uh, challenging at times. How do you manage getting in at 5 a.m.?

I do live here and I love it because I miss traffic in the morning and it’s a fast commute doing it that way. And I’m an early person anyway, so I like seeing the other early risers that come into the park and, you know, building that rapport with them. I like the healthy lifestyle in that sense. It’s about 30 minutes for me in the morning, and then I’m missing all the traffic coming home, so it’s just ideal for where I’m located.

A misleading promotional image shows empty waves at URBNSURF Sydney. The highly anticipated and much-desired wave pool is fully booked most days.

What is the best part about your job here?

It’s talking to the surfers when they’ve come out of a session and like I said, building that rapport. I would say that’s the best part with the advanced surfers. And then the other best part on the other end is those beginners that come through, and they may have never surfed before, and then you check in with them before they go in the water for the first time and do their lesson, and then after, and how they’ve loved it and they want to come back, etc..

You’ve only been open a short while. Has it taken a while to get your rhythm going?

The first week was chaos. Um, controlled chaos just with our staff members finding their feet, finding their confidence. I’m finding now that there is a level of confidence that they have and they haven’t had the need to call the duty manager as much as in the beginning. It’s flowing more now that we know the routine that we’re doing, how every day should be mapped out and laid out. And it’s going to get easier from here.

Is there anything I didn’t ask that you would like to add?

I just really want to emphasize that we’re not just for people who know how to surf. Some people, before they come here might be deterred after seeing how many experienced surfers we have in the water. But we have also the other side where you can jump into a surf lesson and start building up the techniques and pop yourself out at the point. We cater for all people who want to just give it a go and see if they like it.

Endless Surf 2023A