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Cateys 2019: Public Sector Award – Matthew White

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Cateys 2019: Public Sector Award – Matthew White

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Matthew White, director of campus commerce at the University of Reading, and chair of the University Caterers Organisation (TUCO), was unanimously voted the winner of this award.

His successes include leading the development and execution of the University of Reading’s £20m catering strategy, which involved engaging consultants, developing unit designs, working with the project teams, overseeing governance and bringing together disparate residential and commercial catering teams. And if this weren’t enough, he also managed the training and development of some 200 employees within the two-year implementation plan.

His strategy turned a loss-making area into a generator of a surplus in excess of £1m, through implementing roadshows, staff briefings, and one-to-one and team meetings.

White and his team launched the first beer tap wall at the university and he is the man behind the Sustain It Scheme. The scheme is a first in the sector; it uses ValidFill technology, where students buy a ‘chipped’ bottle and pay for a drinks package for a week, a term or the entire academic year, and can then refill their bottle as often as they like during that period. The university has also become an early adopter of a similar scheme for coffee machines to eliminate the use of paper cups, and operates a cup tax. The scheme delivers strong financial savings, with staff costs down from 39% to 34% – and, just as importantly, the removal of single-use plastic bottles.

Judge Al Crisci praised White’s alcohol-free bar concept and fellow judge Andy Jones agreed: “The bar is a positive story to tell. Matthew has strong financial results and a strong team strategy. He shows impressive innovation and has embedded sustainable projects at Reading.”

White’s additional role as chair of TUCO gives him responsibility for 131 members from the higher education sector, who employ more than 30,000 staff to serve 500,000 meals a week to 3.5 million students.

In his spare time, White and his TUCO colleagues climbed Ben Nevis in support of Mary’s Meals, TUCO’s chosen charity. The £13,900 raised was enough to support Mlambe primary school in Malawi and provide 1,000 pupils with a school meal for a whole year.

What the judges said

“This was a unanimous decision for an individual demonstrating great achievements and innovation in the workplace.”
Michael Hales

“Matthew has strong financial results and a strong team strategy.”
Andy Jones

“This entry showed clear innovation. Matthew goes above in his day job and for TUCO, and demonstrates exemplary leadership in both.”
Sophie Murray

“There has been impressive innovation at Reading. For Matthew to be doing such a superb job for TUCO on top of this role is impressive.”
Neel Radia

“Matthew has built an enviable profile throughout the sector by doing an outstanding day job while becoming a recognisable figurehead of a leading organisation. His innovation and charitable contributions are to be applauded.”
Craig Smith


The shortlist

Catering Service, Nottingham University Hospitals

John Figgins Head of catering services, West Sussex County Council

Matthew White Director of campus commerce, University of Reading, and chair of TUCO

The judges

Beverley Baker Board member and director, LACA

Alberto Crisci Founder, Clink charity

Michael Hales Chair of LACA, and managing director, Juniper Ventures

Andy Jones Founder, AJ Associates

Vic Laws Director, AVL Consultancy

Alison McCree Managing director, Synchronicity Care

Sophie Murray Head of nutrition and hydration, Sunrise Senior Living, and deputy chair of NACC

Neel Radia Regional account executive, Brakes Group, and chair of NACC

Craig Smith Chair of Hospital Caterers Association, and head of corporate affairs, ISS Facility Services, Healthcare, Education and Defence

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