Acorn Awards 2014: The winners

27 June 2014
Acorn Awards 2014: The winners

Rosalind Mullen profiles each winner of the Acorn Awards 2014

Age 29
Position Business development director, BaxterStorey
Nominator Simon Esner
Proudest moment
Greatest inspiration Excellent customer service. I see my colleagues giving service with a smile and I know even that short moment can improve the day for that customer - it's the best part of our business.
Ambition To enjoy work. I love working in a business where trying new things and questioning the norm is encouraged in
order to breed more success.

Tim Axe joined BaxterStorey seven years ago, starting as tender administrator before progressing to junior sales executive and regional sales manager. Last January he was promoted to business development director for London and City, taking on the new responsibility of managing three direct reports plus the wider telemarketing personnel.

Rising to the challenge, Tim, who has a BA in business and management from Oxford Brookes University, has notched up an impressive track record of generating sales growth, smashing his targets to add £15m in organic turnover in the past three years alone.

He was instrumental in helping to develop the company's training programme for business development, even volunteering to take part in the pilot scheme. So it's no surprise that he's widely recognised as a rising star within the business.

Age 28
Position Operations manager, BaxterStorey
Nominator Simon Esner
Proudest moment Becoming an operations manager at BaxterStorey, a company that shares my values and gives me the freedom to live by them.
Greatest inspiration My sponsors - Mack Allan, Jeremy Wood and the BaxterStorey board - who, despite position and workload, continue to coach, invest and believe in me.
Ambition To become a chief executive. I want to grow our business and provide people with the same opportunities I had.

Catharine Barras joined BaxterStorey in 2010 as assistant manager for the Npower contract, working with 26 staff. She has risen quickly to become one of the company's youngest operations managers. She's responsible for the RBS contract across 13 locations and 172 employees in Scotland and London with turnovers of £6.6m and £7m respectively.

Tipped for swift progression to account director level, her recent achievements include making a cost saving of £100,000 a year through negotiated deals.
People development is also important to Catharine and she has acted as lead mentor for two of the company's 10 graduates as well as a 'go-to' manager for new recruits. She is also working on a new talent development project with HR director Lynne Graham.

Catharine has been instrumental in developing BaxterStorey's relationship with Springboard in Scotland, organising ambassador training and the Scotland National Waiters Day, as well as being asked to sit on the Springboard steering board.

Age 25
Position Catering general manager, Levy Restaurants UK, Compass
Nominator Caragh O'Donnell
Proudest moment They range from being a top-seven finalist for Apprentice of the Year 2010 to having had the opportunity to speak
to the TUC on apprenticeships. But the best is becoming the youngest general manager at Earls Court and Olympia London.
Greatest inspiration My parents - for encouraging me to be the best I could be.
Ambition To become a director and to take on cross-sector roles for Compass around the world.

Megan Caulkett joined Compass Group in 2008, one of just 20 out of 1,000 applicants to secure a place at its inaugural Academy Apprenticeship Programme. Four years later, she was promoted to a general manager role.

After graduating in 2010, Megan joined Compass brand Levy Restaurants as the hospitality/special events manager for Sky Backstage at the O2. She launched the £7m corporate area in two months and created a standard operating procedures manual that has been adopted by Levy's American venues.

By 2011, she was concessions manager at the O2, responsible for 24 catering units and half of the venue's annual £16m turnover. The following year, Levy promoted her to deputy general manager at Earls Court and Olympia.

She now runs all the catering outlets, which generate £3.8m annually - above the £3.2m forecast. She is also credited with generating £100,000 at the Olympia Horse Show 2013.

Megan gives regular talks to promote apprenticeships, has addressed the TUC and supports the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust.

Position Performance improvement manager, ISS Facility Services, Hotels
Nominator Jo Walsh
Proudest moment Becoming an ambassador with the Springboard mentoring programme.
Greatest inspiration TV personality Simon Cowell - there's a lot to be learned from the fact he lost everything but believed in his dream and used grit and determination to rebuild his empire.
Ambition To run a 50-80-bed full-service hotel academy, with a two-year programme to help support young people with a troubled background into hospitality.

It was a job as a part-time barman at a Whitbread pub that ignited the then 18-year-old Lloyd Cole's love of hospitality. Within two years, he had moved through bar manager and F&B new openings manager to hotel operations manager at the 42-bed Premier Inn Milton Keynes East, with a team of 10 and a revenue budget of £600,000.

It was a tough job - turnover was 100% and the hotel ranked in the bottom-performing 10 of the 600-hotel estate. Six months later, he had reduced turnover by 31% and increased team engagement from 30% to 90%.

Lloyd joined ISS Hotels as performance improvement manager and was thrown into the recruitment for the new Sunborn London, a yacht hotel in east London. He worked with East London Business Alliance to recruit young adults and the long-term unemployed locally, organised screening days, assessed 260 candidates and employed 35 people - 70% of the yacht's team. He has offered to run a coaching workshop for unsuccessful candidates.

Age 28
Position Project manager, Wilson Vale (nominated while a general manager at Lexington Catering)
Nominator Katharine Lewis, director, Lexington Catering
Proudest moment Joining Wilson Vale recently as the project manager responsible for relocating one of Birmingham's largest law firms to a new multi-million-pound flagship city centre site.
Greatest inspiration Katharine Lewis, director at Lexington Catering, who showed me what can be achieved through hard work, dedication and enthusiasm.
Ambition To be a company director in 10 years.

Ed Cooke has come a long way since he graduated with a hotel and restaurant degree from Oxford Brookes University in 2009. He signed up for Lexington Catering's one-year graduate training programme and earned promotion three times, working on contracts such as Cancer Research UK and SABMiller.

In 2012, Ed's multi-tasking, people management and organisational skills earned him promotion to general manager of Lexington's Nursing & Midwifery Council contract. He managed five sites, a team of 16 and an annual turnover of £1m. He doubled turnover, pushed sales more than 40% over budget for the year and increased the ratio of hospitality bookings from 40% to 60%.

His enthusiasm made him a popular choice for extra-curricular projects. Last year, Ed was selected to work with the project team to launch Lexington's Service Forum, which promotes front-of-house innovation.

Outside work, he uses his skills to support events for Arthritis Care.

Age 27
Position Human resources manager, London Marriott Hotel Park Lane
Nominator Rachel Phillips
Proudest moment Graduating from Sheffield Hallam University and beating stiff competition for a place on the Marriott Graduate Scheme.
Greatest inspiration Stuart Lancaster, head coach of the England Rugby Team, because of the way he motivates and engages his team. During this year's Six Nations he filled the players' tunnel with messages and quotes from supporters. Our employee entrance is covered in guest comments.
Ambition To specialise in talent acquisition.

Michael Crow's career at Marriott began in 2004 while he worked part-time to fund his studies at Sheffield Hallam University for a degree in international hospitality business management with conference and events.

On graduating in 2008, Michael won a place on the Marriott Graduate Programme. By 2012, he had worked up to his current role of human resources manager at the group's flagship five-star property on Park Lane, Mayfair.

An important part of his job is to coach all hotel staff and, to this end, he sets up regular guidance sessions to advise them on career development. His success in nurturing internal career progression helped reduce staff turnover by 11% in 2013. As every new hire costs £7,500, this has had a direct impact on the bottom line.

His talent is further demonstrated by the fact he has nudged employee engagement from 85% in 2012 to 86% in 2013 when the hotel was undergoing refurbishment.
He also recruited a team for the hotel's restaurant, Lanes of London.

Age 27
Position Assistant financial controller, W London, Leicester Square
Nominator Patrick Divall
Proudest moment When my project to develop finance training for all new starter managers at Starwood's four London hotels was launched.
Greatest inspiration My dad, who taught me to seek out every opportunity, and also Patrick Divall, who has inspired me to become a leader, focusing on my emotional intelligence and communication skills.
Ambition To work in development for a large hotel operator or as an asset manager for a hotel owner.

Camille Dusolle comes from a corporate finance background, graduating in 2010 from EDHEC Business School in Lille, France, with a double degree in management and corporate finance.

He signed up for Finance Futura, Starwood's graduate programme for future hospitality managers, and assisted the finance team in opening W London, Leicester Square and Aloft London Excel. He was promoted in May 2012 to assistant financial controller for the 192-room W London, which has a turnover of £21m.

Camille led a team to launch a training programme for new managers, helping them adapt to company financial procedures. This system is being adopted by sister hotels and has been put forward to become best practice for all Starwood hotels in EAME in 2014.

Camille has completed the Hospa 18-month finance programme and become a Green Belt in Operational Innovation. He won the Starwood Manager of the Year 2013 award and is a "go-to" person for managers seeking assistance.

Camille is now complex financial controller for Sheraton hotels in Samoa.

Age 29
Position Executive head chef, Prestige Events, Sodexo
Nominator Alex Beaumont
Proudest moment Running a 3,000-cover, seven-course banquet on the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in the official hospitality pavilion.
Greatest inspiration My mum, for instilling the work ethic needed for this kind of job.
Ambition To have a restaurant that I can call my own.

Determined to become a chef, by 16 Ben Dutson was already an apprentice at Stanhill Court Hotel in Charlwood, Surrey. Four years later, he moved up to chef de partie at the Swan Inn at Chiddingfold, and within two years was promoted to sous chef, moving to the Castle in Outwood, Surrey, a year later.

In 2008, Ben took the logistically challenging role of sous chef for Sodexo Prestige's Bateaux London dining cruises on the River Thames, working in tiny galleys on two boats and a small landside kitchen to produce fine dining for roughly 90,000 covers annually. Within nine months, he had been promoted to head chef, responsible for a £5.5m turnover, 15 chefs and 12 porters.

By 2010, he was promoted again. As executive chef of Sodexo Prestige Events, he oversees a £7m food business and - at some events - 100 chefs.
Arguably, his finest hour was during the London 2012 Olympics, when he was chosen to run the £7.5m Prestige Pavilion, catering for up to 3,000 guests at a time.

Position Head of operations for the London region, Brasserie Bar Co
Nominator Mark Derry
Proudest moment Making a presentation at our company conference this year.
Greatest inspiration My older brother, Rhodri, who founded male grooming product business Bulldog - nothing fazes him.
Ambition To be a chief executive in the leisure and hospitality sector in the next five years - either for a start-up or an established business.

For Richard Ferrier, the decision to parachute into hospitality from a role in corporate finance with Zolfo Cooper has paid dividends.

Richard joined Brasserie Bar Co in 2012 as group strategy manager. As the youngest member of the executive committee, he has helped double the number of sites to 22, grown turnover from £20m to £34m and seen growth in group EBITDA from £1.1m to £3.1m. He has also contributed to a 60% increase in employee numbers.
So it's perhaps no surprise that Richard is tipped for a swift rise to senior management. He has just been promoted to head of operations for the London region, overseeing seven restaurants with turnover of about £14m, including the flagship unit at Opera Terrace, which contributes £5m in turnover.

Richard has also assisted in developing a new lease for the company's pub concept, helping to strengthen the tie-up with Enterprise Inns and Spirit Pub Company, and this will be at the centre of the business's growth.

Number-crunching aside, Richard is also a keen driver of the company's apprenticeship programme, which employs 12 young people.

Age 26
Position Account manager, Purple Cubed
Nominator Jane Sunley
Proudest moment Being involved in the judging for the 2013 Foodservice Cateys and to be invited back again this year.
Greatest inspiration The fact that we work in one of the most innovative and fastest-growing sectors in the world - who wouldn't want to be a part of the hospitality industry?
Ambition To run a successful luxury boutique hotel brand.

Even while studying for a degree in hospitality management at Oxford Brookes University, Sam Gardner was in demand. Work placements in the F&B department at Hotel du Vin, Cambridge, for instance, saw him promoted twice - to section head, where he won Employee of the Month after eight weeks - and then as bistro supervisor.

After graduating in September 2011, Sam joined training and development company Purple Cubed as account manager with a remit to deliver its Talent Toolbox training programmes to hospitality companies such as Claridge's, the Connaught and Searcys.

Despite not being a direct fee-earner, Sam has grown revenue by 54% year-on-year to a projected £370,000 through added-value services. Efficiencies that he initiated have also reduced project turnaround time by 30%.

Across his 40-strong client base, Sam has cut turnover by an average of 2% - a joint saving of £600,000. Indeed, 90% of his clients report increases in employee engagement scores.

Sam contributes two hours a month as a mentor to young people and took part in the Nike 10k to raise money for Hospitality Action.

Age 27
Position Operations manager, Premier Inn London St Pancras
Nominator Mina Fattahi
Proudest moment Representing Premier Inn London Leicester Square after my first year of opening the hotel, when we achieved a 100% balanced scorecard at the national conference.
Greatest inspiration Giving people their first opportunity to be part of the hospitality industry and then providing them with the opportunity
to progress and become managers.
Ambition To become part of the executive team at Whitbread. I would like to be known for making a difference to our teams and to play a key role
in the company.

Few can fail to be impressed by the fact that in January 2014, within just seven years of joining Whitbread's Premier Inn, Katy Green had worked her way up from reception team member to operations manager at the new 270-bed Premier Inn London St Pancras.

What's even more impressive is that this isn't her first high-profile new opening. Having notched up experience as team leader and deputy general manager, Katy was promoted to her first operations manager role in 2012, launching Premier Inn London Leicester Square.

In 2013/14, she achieved the highest revpar across Premier Inn at £129. She also recruited 90% of staff from the NEETS category and saw six internal promotions within the 20-strong team in the first six months of opening.

In 2013, she was one of 13 Whitbread Award Winners and has twice been Whitbread Engagement Champion. Katy is involved with the Whitbread Apprenticeship Programme and works with charity Springboard.

Age 26
Position Designer florist, the Dorchester, London
Nominator John Scanlon
Proudest moment The Christmas displays at the Dorchester and 45 Park Lane.
Greatest inspiration My team, who enable me to be creative and support me in making the most amazing floral arrangements in London.
Ambition To gain world renown for the Dorchester's floral arrangements.

Armed with a higher diploma in floristry and a background in retail floristry, Philip Hammond stepped through the Dorchester hotel's doors in 2010 as florist team leader - and the rest, as they say, is history.

In the absence of a manager, he became acting designer florist while a replacement was sought. In no time, he had restructured staff duties to make the department more productive, and by 2012 he had officially taken the role of designer florist. He manages a team of 10, with responsibility for all in-house flowers, plants and exterior landscaping at the Dorchester and 45 Park Lane, plus revenues of £300,000 a year.

Philip has cut costs in the last financial year by more than £100,000 and by maximising sales opportunities, he has also raised revenues, resulting in profit soaring by 290%.

Philip trained a new team and boosted employee engagement from 59% in 2012 to 79% in 2013. His employee satisfaction score is at an all-time high of 97% and he has also cut employee turnover from 75% to 25%.

His cutting-edge Christmas displays - in particular his "gingerbread" house in 2013 - attracted a frenzy of media coverage, and he has also worked on several joint ventures.

Position People manager, Lexington Catering
Nominator Katharine Lewis
Proudest moment Completing my master's degree in HR management, having studied while working for three years.
Greatest inspiration My granny, Shelagh, who is courageous, independent and never fazed by anything or anyone.
Ambition To become an HR director and drive a culture that encourages innovation, engagement and fun.

Emma Langford read English language and linguistics at University of York, but a string of part-time jobs in hotels had already attracted her to hospitality. On graduating in 2008 she took a job as HR and internal communications co-ordinator at contract caterer Elior.

Emma went on to gain hospitality-specific qualifications, studying for a master's degree in human resources management and a CIPD qualification while working up to the rank of HR business partner.

In June 2013, she joined Lexington Catering in the newly created role of people manager, with responsibility for 650 staff. There, she improved succession planning and talent retention, thus reducing staff turnover to 12% against the industry average of 40%.

She also safeguarded the company's IIP gold award standard and managed the submission for the 2014 Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For. Lexington was ranked seventh and was recognised for "extraordinary" employee engagement.

Emma also refreshed the LexTalk Extranet, increasing the number of staff who access it by 80%, and introduced a new staff handbook.

Position General manager, the Fishes, North Hinksey, Oxfordshire
Nominator Hamish Stoddart
Proudest moment Coming back as a manager to the Fishes, where I had trained, to bring it back to its former glory.
Greatest inspiration My parents; Peach Pubs founders Lee Cash and Hamish Stoddart, whose drive and determination make it worth pushing myself to be the best every day; and my university tutor Kathy Mitchel, who made sure I pulled my socks up and got a degree.
Ambition To start my own pub company and take over the world one pub at a time.

Fortunately for the industry, Owain Llwyd Jones took advice from his parents and, instead of reading history, studied his first love, hospitality management, at Oxford Brookes University.

On graduating in 2007, Owain joined Peach Pubs the Fishes, where he rose from starter to assistant manager in two years. He then opened Peach's first wet-led pub, the James Figg in Thame, turning it into a thriving local.

Family events took him back to Wales in 2011, but in 2012 Peach lured him back to the Fishes as general manager, where he took a pub that was £10,000 in the red and delivered a £60,000 profit. He grew annual sales by £145,908 - an increase of about £2,806 a week - and reckons this year he will double the profit to £120,000.

He's also rebuilt the front- and back-of-house team, training staff up to managerial level, and recruited an experienced head chef to raise the profile of the food.
Owain also supports the village school and local sports club events.

Position Front of house manager, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, London
Nominator Gareth Banner
Proudest moment Being part of the pre-opening team for St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, London.
Greatest inspiration A number of leaders have enabled me to gain diverse experience through multiple disciplines. The values and work ethic of my parents and the love and support of my fiancée have given me the drive to succeed.
Ambition To become a well-rounded and respected general manager of a leading hotel.

Christian Masters' career with Marriott was kickstarted by a one-year F&B internship at the Boston Marriott Long Wharf, USA.

At the time he was studying for a degree in international hospitality management at Oxford Brookes University and, on graduating in 2007, he joined London Marriott Grosvenor Square as human resources co-ordinator.

In February 2010 he earned promotion to senior event manager and was then made opening director of event management for the new St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, London. Aged 25, he was charged with launching the banqueting and events department with more than 20 direct reports.

Promotion to front of house manager followed in 2013. He is responsible for 50 staff across reception, telecoms, guest relations and concierge, looking after 100,000 guests a year and supporting a revenue budget of £17m.

Christian won the Restaurant Association of Great Britain Award for Food Service and is the European Event Management Leader of the Year and Global Event Management Leader of the Year for the Renaissance Brand 2011.

Age 29
Position Sales executive, BaxterStorey
Nominator Tom Barrett
Proudest moment Our catering operation at London 2012 was immense - we had a brilliant team, which I was proud to be part of.
Greatest inspiration Karren Brady, vice-chairman of West Ham United. You've got to be pretty determined to achieve what she has and I admire that.
Ambition To do a master's degree or even a PhD.

Benjamin McEwan joined the Lexington Catering Graduate scheme in 2008, having graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a degree in international hospitality management. He hit the ground running. Within nine months, he had been promoted to assistant manager with responsibility for two sites. The following year, he was made general manager of a FTSE 100 client's headquarters with a £500,000 turnover and eight staff.

Benjamin's talents caught the attention of the competition, and in 2011 BaxterStorey offered him the role of operations manager for the Media Centre for the London Olympics.

In the run-up, he co-ordinated 11 mobile catering units at the Olympic Park and the Athletes' Village. During the Games, he oversaw £2.5m of turnover in just 105 days, and managed a team of 300 staff across 19 outlets, feeding 10,000 journalists daily.

He has now moved into a sales executive role covering the Midlands, Birmingham and London. Within 15 months, he has brought in or retained £19.5m of business.
He also co-founded networking website hotcatUK, which has 6,000 members, and in 2009 he won the Olive Barnett Award.

Position General manager, De Vere Village Urban Resorts Swansea
Nominator Joanne Barton
Proudest moment Being appointed general manager while still on the company's 14-month Rising Star Programme for future general managers - I therefore graduated early.
Greatest inspiration My family, mentors and role models, such as Stephen Carter, chairman of Cameron House on Loch Lomond.
Ambition To become an established hotelier and hospitality business leader.

Not only was Mark McMahon one of just 24 head of department managers in De Vere Village Urban Resorts to take part in the company's 14-month Rising Stars Programme, but his aptitude propelled him up to general manager at De Vere Village Swansea in June 2013 - while he was still on the scheme.

The promotion saw him move from deputy general manager at De Vere Village Swindon where he helped to boost banqueting with 450 additional covers year-on-year.

As general manager at De Vere Village Swansea, Mark is responsible for a £6.5m business comprising three F&B outlets, a leisure club, an events department and 120 staff.

Described as "a hotel in crisis" when he joined, BDRC Guest Rate online feedback now rates Village Swansea with 79% satisfaction.

Mark studied for a degree in science and management of exercise and health at Surrey University, and joined De Vere Village Urban Resorts in 2010 as a leisure club manager with a team of 20 staff and an average £0.8m in turnover. Fast-forward another five years and he could easily be a regional director.

Age 25
Position People and talent lead, Dorchester Collection
Nominator Eugenio Pirri
Proudest moment Being offered the role of people and organisational development co-ordinator at Dorchester Collection, even though I had no HR experience.
Greatest inspiration The elation when we go all-out to achieve perfection, working alongside wildly diverse characters in our trusting, cohesive and mutually accountable team.
Ambition To inspire future leaders, promote self-development and contribute in the wider world.

Before joining the Dorchester Collection's HR division in January 2012, Rakhee Patel had spent several years gaining experience at five-star hotels. She started as a pastry chef at Mandarin Oriental, Macau in 2005, returning to London in 2011 as hotel assistant manager at Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane.

Her first position at the Dorchester Collection saw her move into the role of people and organisational development co-ordinator, although within a year she was promoted to people and talent lead in the London office. With her team she oversees 4,000 employees globally and is tasked with working with the company's 26 international partners.

She has been the lead in Talent Plus, a system to recruit new employees, and the Lounge, an employee intranet system. Her contribution has helped the company achieve employee engagement of 90.3% and HR support scores of 91.4%.

In 2013, Rakhee won the Rising Star award at the HR in Hospitality Awards.

Age 27
Position Global commercial manager, Compass Group
Nominator Mark Forret
Proudest moment Being part of the team that spent 10 months working hard to win one of our largest global catering contracts.
Greatest inspiration The numerous individuals I work with, and the world of business as a whole, in which I want to play a bigger role.
Ambition Long-term, to become the chief executive of a medium-sized organisation.

Simon Porter is a trained accountant - in fact, when he joined Compass in 2010 as global commercial analyst for the catering giant's international bid team, he had never worked in catering or run a commercial bid process.

Some 30 months later, Simon earned promotion to global commercial manager, having taken a lead in one of Compass's biggest contracts with a turnover of £200m. It is the first time this FTSE 100 client had awarded global hospitality services to one supplier.

It's Simon's thought leadership that is credited with differentiating Compass from the competition in its bids for complex, large, global contracts. The result is a 2:1 bid-winning ratio, way ahead of the industry benchmark.

Simon is not just a number-cruncher - he has a growing interest in the service and people side in the industry and his promotion to global commercial manager is a move closer to the operations side. Among other tasks, he is conducting research across 200,000 consumers to develop better services and products. He is also the UK finance manager's line manager and has matrix responsibility for finance managers across 30 countries.

Position Head chef, the French by Simon Rogan, the Midland hotel, Manchester
Nominator Michael Magrane
Proudest moment When the Good Food Guide 2014 was released and the French was rated 8/10 and named best newcomer, ranking 12th on its UK Top 50 table.
Greatest inspiration Simon Rogan is a massive influence, having seen what he has achieved without swerving from his ethos. Also, Chester Grosvenor's Simon Radley demonstrates a real work ethic.
Ambition To achieve accolades with my team.

Before joining the French by Simon Rogan, Adam Reid contributed to the success of a number of restaurants. As senior sous chef at Simon Radley at the Chester Grosvenor between 2009-2011, he was part of the team that achieved Michelin rising star status and, similarly at Brockencote Hall between 2011-2013, he helped win a third AA rosette.

Adam took up his head chef role at the Midland in February 2013 to help with the rebranding of the hotel's restaurant. It opened as the French by Simon Rogan a month later and, in its first 10 months, generated food revenue of £560,700 and a 300% profit boost.

It also totted up numerous awards, including three AA rosettes; 8/10 and best newcomer rating in the Good Food Guide and ranked 12th in its UK Top 50.

Adam oversees a brigade of 10. He works with students at Bury College and has given placements to French students through the Leonardo da Vinci programme. Other accolades include being the Academy of Culinary Arts' Annual Award of Excellence winner in 2011.

Age 28
Position Operations manager, Lainston House hotel, near Winchester (Exclusive Hotels)
Nominator Carmen Hill
Proudest moment When I think of the progress I've made since starting as a 16-year-old waiter - if you'd told me then that I would be the hotel operations manager of a five-star property, I wouldn't have believed you.
Greatest inspiration One of my first general managers, Stephen Quigley, who gave me a lot of responsibility at a young age and made me realise I could handle it.
Ambition To become general manager of a five-star hotel and to make a significant contribution to developing the next generation of hospitality leaders.

Alex Robertson's CV bristles with experience with cutting-edge brands, such as Hotel du Vin, Champneys and Coworth Park. He also has a diploma in hotel management and an associate degree in F&B operations from Les Roches International School of Hotel Management, plus a degree in hotel and restaurant management from Oxford Brookes University.

His commitment to broadening his skills led to his move in 2012 to Champneys' resort in Tring as deputy operations manager, and then swiftly operations manager. Alex proved a sharp operator, finding efficiencies that delivered an 18% cut in wage costs while achieving a 6.3% rise in customer satisfaction.

He was then appointed hotel operations manager at Exclusive Hotels' Lainston House hotel, managing a team of 40. During his short tenure, the five-star hotel has gained an 86% overall score in a recent AA inspection - its highest to date.

Position Business development manager, Be At One
Nominator Andrew Stones
Proudest moment My one-year anniversary as business development manager, when I demonstrated how far I have moved the business forward to my boss.
Greatest inspiration Karen Forrester, UK managing director of TGI Friday's. I've seen her speak at two conferences and followed her progress in turning TGI's around. She is a fantastic role model.
Ambition To be a regional operations or HR manager for an international brand and to mentor smaller businesses that are expanding from independent to big brand.

By anyone's standards, Kate Rose's progress has been impressive. She joined cocktail bar group Be At One just over three years ago as the company's first female general manager, and within six months had created what was then its highest-revenue bar, Be At One Shoreditch, boosting sales by 170%.

Promotion to HR and compliance officer followed quickly and last year she became business development manager. Her area responsibilities have increased by 140%, overseeing 11 sites with average annual store revenue between £500,000 and £1.5m. Record sales have been achieved in eight of the bars.

A strong advocate of HR and operations working in alignment, Kate has developed three general managers, one duty manager and two area learning and development officers. Kate has also re-launched two bars, including Bar Vinyl in Camden, where she increased turnover by 150%.

Position Luxury leisure sales manager, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, London
Nominator Gareth Banner
Proudest moment Being promoted to sales manager at St Pancras Renaissance Hotel. I love the building, the stunning chamber suites and working with an amazing team.
Greatest inspiration My mentor, director of sales Victoria Diez-Davies. She encourages me to do my best, while making sure we have plenty of laughs along the way.
Ambition Ultimately, I would like to see myself as a vice-president of sales with Marriott International and be in a position to encourage and educate others within sales hospitality.

When it comes to going the extra mile, Hanna Sherwood is an inspiration. In January 2010, she took a receptionist job at the London Marriott Grosvenor Square and organised a charity dinner in aid of Help a Capital Child. It was such a success that she was given the newly created role of social events executive.

It's further testament to her talent that by 2012 she was one of just 50 out of 2,000 applicants selected for the Marriott Graduate Programme. Promotion to a sales executive role saw her exceed financial targets by 14% and make it into the top 30 sales leaders in Europe.

In April 2013, Hanna took up her role as luxury leisure sales manager at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel. Within nine months she increased wholesale market revenue by 60%.

Hanna is no stranger to awards, listing among others the General Manager's Special Recognition Award in 2011 at London Marriott Grosvenor Square and first runner-up of the Savoy Gastronomes Olive Barnett Award 2012.

Age 26
Position Unit manager, the Grain Loft, Terminal 1, Manchester Airport, SSP UK
Nominator Rob Allen
Proudest moment To see the Grain Loft commended at the FAB Awards in Dubai.
Greatest inspiration I look to lots of successful people and take bits from them - I enjoy trying to understand how other people have achieved and thinking how I will do the same.
Ambition Long-term, to set up a business abroad offering a unique "out of this world"-style bar in a location where it's new to the market.

Phil Sherwood joined SSP UK in 2003 and worked his way through the management programme to his role as unit manager of one of the company's highest-volume businesses.

He has consistently delivered both sales and team retention well ahead of target. In September 2009, Phil was seconded to Guernsey Airport to run the troubled site. Within three months, he had delivered double-digit EBITDA growth.

Back at Manchester Airport in 2010, he managed the Runway Bar and spun around a business that had delivered -14% EBITDA year-to-date, with year-end double-digit EBITDA growth of 11.3%.

Phil opened the 400-seat Grain Loft in March 2013. In six months, he delivered sales of £2.25m, some £200,000 better than budget and EBITDA hit £419,000 - £175,000 ahead of budget.

The Grain Loft was commended at the Dubai FAB awards and came second in the category of Best Airport Bar. To recognise his achievements, Phil was awarded Outstanding Contribution at SSP's annual conference.

Age 29
Position Operations manager, Premier Inn, Whitbread
Nominator James Latham
Proudest moment Opening Birmingham City Centre New Street Station Premier Inn and developing my former F&B manager, who has since gone on to open his own first hotel.
Greatest inspiration Two of my previous general managers - Laura Hinson-Yates (a former Acorn Award winner), who inspired me to believe in myself, and Alison Fletcher, who gave me my first big break, opening Coventry City Earlsdon Park Premier Inn as operations manager.
Ambition To be known for developing, mentoring and creating opportunities in the hospitality industry for young unemployed people -
helping to make their dreams come true.

Rebecca started her Whitbread career as a receptionist at Coventry East Premier Inn aged 19 and, within two years, had become deputy general manager at the hotel.

By 2012, she was new openings operations manager of the 100-bed Coventry City Earlsdon Park. Here, she smashed her team engagement score by 21%, pushed turnover £67,500 over budget in year one and saw 103% profit.

Last September, she launched Premier Inn's Birmingham City Centre New Street Station. Within four months, the hotel had brand audit scores of 91% and record guest measures at 13% above brand.

Rebecca has developed a number of managers and recruits from areas of low opportunity through Springboard Summer School, the Prince's Trust, the Sunemployment Roadshow and NEETs, as well as promoting apprenticeships.

Age 29
Position Hotel operations manager, South Lodge hotel, Exclusive Hotels, near Horsham, West Sussex
Nominator Danny Pecorelli
Proudest moment Playing just a small part in the last royal wedding while at the Goring.
Greatest inspiration My family, for giving me the love, support, motivation and guidance to succeed, and to be a better person while being true to myself.
Ambition To become the general manager of a five-star hotel, while developing and mentoring those around me, and influencing and contributing to the industry.

Mark Surguy's career has been characterised by a hunger for development. After graduating with a degree in hotel management from Oxford Brookes University, he joined the five-star Goring hotel. Within five years, he had held four management positions and, as assistant front of house manager, made it to the shortlist of the Hotel Cateys for Front of House Team of the Year and was Employee of the Year 2010-11 for Excellence in Management.

In 2012, Mark joined South Lodge as front of house manager and then became operations manager with a team of 60, a budget of £8m and a remit to re-position South Lodge from a four-red-star to a five-red-star property.

This already looks within reach as the hotel received a strong AA score of 92% on its last visit, while guest satisfaction pipped 92.2%, some 2.7% above target.
Mark also has a robust recruitment process, and all starters are placed on a tailormade 12-week induction plan, contributing to a 7.36% increase in the staff satisfaction score.

Age 28
Position Pastry chef, self-employed
Nominator David Mulcahy
Proudest moment Representing the UK at WorldSkills Japan 2007 and winning the first coveted Medallion of Excellence for any British pastry chef.
Greatest inspiration My grandmother. She started my love of cooking by baking cakes with me, and instilled in me the benefits and power of hospitality - how food brings people together.
Ambition To be happy and successful - whatever that may look like.

In becoming a self-employed pastry chef, Will Torrent has had to display business acumen as well as talent. He gained a degree in culinary arts from Thames Valley University before joining Bachmanns patisserie as a chef de partie between 2008 and 2011. During this time, he sweetened his technique with stages in leading kitchens, such as William Curley, the Fat Duck and the Dorchester.

Since 2011, he has been a freelance pastry chef for retailers such as Waitrose, Zizzi, the Pampered Chef and Caffè Nero, helping them to develop new patisserie with shelf life and the durability to survive shipping.

Will has a track record of mentoring students for World Skills and last year became involved with the National Chef of the Year competition.

Other triumphs include coming sixth at the 2007 World Skills in Japan and being the first British chef to receive a Medallion of Excellence Award. He went on to win the Craft Guild of Chefs Young Chef Award in 2009 and the World Skills Alumni outstanding achievement award in 2012. In 2010, he won the Acorn Scholarship.

Age 25
Position Head of Club Wembley restaurants, Delaware North Companies (UK)
Nominator Alison Gray
Proudest moment My promotion to head of restaurants at Wembley.
Greatest inspiration Everyone who comes to Wembley is creating a memory. Knowing that my role contributes to this memory inspires me to make a difference.
Ambition To provide a positive influence in shaping the management style of rising stars.

Nadia Ulusoy has an impressive brief for someone who was waitressing only a few years ago. As the youngest head of Club Wembley restaurants for Delaware North Companies (UK), she oversees four restaurants with 3,200 covers per game and £3.5m of annual revenue.

On event days, Nadia is responsible for up to 500 waiting staff, 40 managers and 40 supervisors. More impressively still, over the 36 events at Wembley in 2013, her team served 80,000 guests and still achieved a complaints rate of less than 1%.

It all started in 2007 when Nadia joined the hospitality management company as a waitress at Emirates Stadium while studying for her A Levels. On graduating with a marketing degree from University of East London in 2010, she took on a full-time role overseeing the bar and operations on Club Level. In the same year, she moved over to the Wembley team as Club Wembley hospitality and bar manager and moved up the ladder to her current role this year.

Nadia was awarded the Delaware North Managing Director's Special Award for above and beyond work ethic for 2013.

Position Training manager, Red Carnation Hotels
Nominator Liz McGivern
Proudest moment Receiving my promotion from training officer to training manager last year.
Greatest inspiration My direct manager, vice-president of HR Liz McGivern. She recognised my potential three years ago and helped me find my niche.
Ambition To inspire people and make them believe they can achieve whatever they put their minds to, whether through a motivational training course, an ethical green initiative, on-the-job coaching, or a regular conversation with a team member.

Jennifer Winstanley graduated in 2007 with a degree in management and tourism from University of Surrey and experience on the international hotel scene at Le Méridien Limassol and Breakers Palm Beach, Florida. This smoothed the way to a place on the Red Carnation Hotels Management Participant Programme in 2010 and she progressed over one year through rooms division, HR and sales.

HR and training have proved to be Jennifer's strengths, and last June she was promoted from training officer to training manager. Jennifer has gained a number of training certificates, including her People 1st Train the Trainer qualification. She also studied for a CIPD Learning and Development Level 3 Foundation qualification and is looking to the next level.

Her initiatives helped drive Red Carnation's listings in the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2012 and 2013 and also won HR in Hospitality for Excellence's inaugural Tom Crowley Award in 2013.

Age 26
Position Chef-director, the Warehouse restaurant, Southport, Lancashire
Nominator Paul Adams
Proudest moment Gaining a Michelin star at Glenapp Castle.
Greatest inspiration David Everitt-Matthias, chef-proprietor at Le Champignon Sauvage, who has never missed a service and has great talent.
Ambition Just to be successful at what I do and to broaden my management skills.

Matt has an enviable track record, despite being only 26 years old. Entering the industry aged 16, he worked in a number of kitchens before his career took off at the three-rosette St Martins on the Isle hotel. Matt soon progressed, from commis chef to junior sous, and helped the restaurant gain its first Michelin star under Kenny Atkinson.

He then moved on to work his way through a list of award-la den establishments, including Gravetye Manor and Le Champignon Sauvage. In 2013, as head chef at Glenapp Castle, he achieved his own Michelin star, three AA rosettes, 6/10 in the Good Food Guide, and an average gross profit of 74%.

Matt took up the challenge of chef-director at the Warehouse restaurant, Southport, in January this year, managing 18 staff. His remit stretches beyond the kitchen, giving him creative influence over the strategic direction of the £1m-turnover business.

Matt also took part in the Gordon Ramsay Scholarship in 2008, reached the final eight on the BBC's MasterChef: The Professionals in 2009 and got through to the regional finals of Young Chef Young Waiter in 2011 and 2012.

The Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email

Start the working day with The Caterer’s free breakfast briefing email

Sign Up and manage your preferences below

Check mark icon
Thank you

You have successfully signed up for the Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email and will hear from us soon!

Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.


Ad Blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an adblocker and – although we support freedom of choice – we would like to ask you to enable ads on our site. They are an important revenue source which supports free access of our website's content, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

trade tracker pixel tracking