Home » News » Prue Leith Wins Lifetime Achievement Award as People 1st Unveils 2016 Shine Awards Winners

Prue Leith wins Lifetime Achievement Award as People 1st unveils 2016 Shine Awards winners

4 October 2016

  • Awards celebrate the achievements of women in hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism
  • Chantelle Nicholson of Marcus Wareing Restaurants named Woman of the Year
  • Unilever Food Solutions named Best Place for Women to Work

Restaurateur, author and TV presenter Prue Leith was awarded the Robyn Jones Lifetime Achievement Award at last night’s Shine Awards - the only awards that celebrate the achievements of women working in hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism, and the individuals and businesses that actively support gender diversity in these industries.

Presented by workforce development expert People 1st, in partnership with The Caterer, the awards recognise the importance of retaining women and enabling them to progress to senior management.

The awards ceremony, held at the 8 Northumberland Ave in central London, was attended by over 200 industry leaders and hosted by newcaster and TV and radio presenter, Katie Derham.

The evening also saw Chantelle Nicholson, chef patron at Tredwell’s and group operations director at Marcus Wareing Restaurants, receive the prestigious Woman of the Year award, while Unilever Food Solutions won the coveted title of Best Place for Women to Work.

Prue Leith, winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award commented: “I am really delighted to receive the Robyn Jones Lifetime Achievement Award. The Shine Awards are really necessary – people often say ‘women are in the top jobs all over the world now, we don’t need to worry any more’, but we do. We take women in who are the best, but we don’t keep them – they leave because the conditions aren’t right.”

The full list of 2016 Shine Awards winners is as follows:

  • Rising Star (sponsored by Fraser Giles Partnership) – Irene Forte, Rocco Forte Hotels
  • Innovator of the Year (sponsored by Brakes) – Maria Bobrowska, TUI Group
  • Ambassador of the Year (sponsored by The Caterer) – Zuleika Fennell, Corbin & King
  • Best Initiative to Retain and Develop Women (sponsored by Unilever Food Solutions) – Project Amazon, Premier Inn (New Openings)
  • Mentor of the Year (Sponsored by People 1st) – Gareth Billington – Everton Football Club, Sodexo
  • Best Place for Women to Work (sponsored by Gail Kenny Executive Recruitment) – Unilever Food Solutions
  • Woman of the Year (sponsored by Gail Kenny Executive Recruitment) – Chantelle Nicholson, Marcus Wareing Restaurants
  • The Robyn Jones Lifetime Achievement Award (sponsored by Troika Recruitment) – Prue Leith

Simon Tarr, chief executive of People 1st, said: “The Shine Awards is always an incredibly inspiring evening, and this one was no different. Congratulations to all of the winners – their hard work and dedication is making a huge impact across our industries; from creating aspirational role models to helping create more balanced and productive teams.

“The importance of this work cannot be underestimated - the number of women in managerial positions across hospitality and tourism businesses has fallen by 24,000 in the past five years. Retaining and developing women is critical to making sure our industries continue to grow and thrive, so thank you to everyone who attended tonight for helping support this cause.”

Mark Lewis, publisher of The Caterer, added: “Tonight’s award winners demonstrate the amazing heights that women can achieve in our industries. It’s so important for us to come together as an industry and celebrate best practice – I hope attendees will have gone away with some new ideas about how they can support women in their business.

The 2016 Shine Awards was sponsored by Fraser Giles Partnership, Unilever Food Solutions, Gail Kenny Executive Recruitment, Troika Recruitment and Brakes.

Shine Awards 2016 winners:

Rising Star - Irene Forte - Rocco Forte Hotels
Sponsored by Fraser Giles Partnership – presented by Simon Tarr, Chief Executive, People 1st

Irene Forte is an inspirational individual who has made an incredible impact in her place of work in a very short period.

Her achievements include creating new standard operating producers for every guest-facing department for her hotel group, new behavioural training modules, completing her group training certificate and started overseeing learning and development for the company’s 10 hotels.

With funding from the UK Commission of Employment and Skills, Irene created a careers and development app for hospitality employees, which helps them to map their careers. In addition to this, she now also oversees all spas across the group with eight spa managers and their teams reporting into her. A health fanatic herself, she has now started giving talks on wellbeing.

Innovator of the Year - Maria Bobrowska - TUI Group
Sponsored by Brakes – presented by Andrew Bush, Group HR Director, Brakes

Maria Bobrowska has not only embraced change, but driven it to deliver rewards for her company, its partners and, most importantly, its customers. After a relatively short period of time in her role, Maria took on the challenge of finding new ways to enhance the customer experience, specifically in the field of mobile.

To do that, she not only came up with a truly unique product - a wearable wristband to streamline customers’ hotel experience - but overcame the hurdles that could have proved a barrier to implementation.

Maria has been hailed for her ability to work with both technology and business partners, and her tenacity in challenging established thinking to deliver a new proposition which is set to transform the holiday experiences of millions of customers who holiday with TUI Group.

Best Initiative to Retain and Develop Women - Project Amazon - Premier Inn (New Openings)
Sponsored by Unilever Food Solutions – presented by Tracey Rogers, Managing Director UK&I, Unilever

A company that actively promotes diversity, Premier Inn operates a culture aimed at ensuring women have every opportunity to succeed. Its new openings division of this company is made up of a group of people dedicated to the progression of women. In its team of 24, 19 are females.

Project Amazon was designed to think about new property handovers to opening timeframes in a less rigid way and not to use the same cookie cutter approach to all hotels. For example, offering one manager part-time flexi hours around the needs of her young son, and a new mum given a flexible arrangement so that she could return from maternity leave but continue to breast feed her daughter.

But the benefits weren’t all one way – not only did this programme improve the quality of life for its team, by being more focused and saving time on site the team was able to generate nearly £150,000 of revenue in its first four months.

Ambassador of the Year - Zuleika Fennell - Corbin & King
Sponsored by The Caterer – presented by Mark Lewis, Publisher, The Caterer

Zuleika Fennell is an unsung heroine. After a career in hotels, she moved into HR before becoming chief operating officer of what is probably the most revered restaurant group in the UK.

Disillusioned by the fluctuating levels of women in her organisation, Zuleika conducted a survey, followed up by a conference to understand the barriers to progression for her female colleagues.

While executing the strategy of her visionary bosses, she works tirelessly to empower the women in her organisation, forever grateful for the opportunities that she has had herself. “I was incredibly lucky,” she told The Caterer last year, “I had two gentlemen who did notice me and forced me to challenge myself and move up the corporate ladder.”

Mentor of the Year - Gareth Billington - Everton Football Club, Sodexo
Sponsored by People 1st – presented by Simon Tarr, Chief Executive, People 1st

Gareth Billington has developed a reputation for training and mentoring young people in the kitchen. Eighty per cent of his young mentees over the past 10 years have been women, and today he proudly boasts a brigade of 32 chefs, 14 of which are female.

An active supporter of Springboard’s FutureChef, Gareth has also maintained contact with the young female chefs that he has coached over the years, mentoring them as they climb the ladder in the industry.        

Best Place for Women to Work - Unilever Food Solutions
Sponsored by Gail Kenny Executive Recruitment – presented by Gail Kenny, Gail Kenny Executive Recruitment

Unilever Food Solutions has an ultimate target of achieving gender balance across all levels of its business. More than 60% of all external hires must be women, and in fact since January 2015, 70% of newly employed members of staff have been female.

The company has made these great strides by creating a work environment that enables all employees to balance their work and home life, and by using gender-balanced panels for interviews. Job advertisements promote diversity, and promote the business’s utterly flexible commitment to roles for part time, job share and agile working.

This is not the first time Unilever Food Solutions has been recognised for this work – it previously won both the Internal Innovation Award and the Customer Facing Innovation Award at the annual Mumsnet Family Friendly Awards.

Woman of the Year - Chantelle Nicholson - Marcus Wareing Restaurants
Sponsored by Gail Kenny Executive Recruitment – presented by Gail Kenny, Gail Kenny Executive Recruitment

Chantelle Nicholson has had an extraordinary career. The lynchpin in the organisation in which she works, she has had a unique journey into hospitality. After completing a law degree and working initially in banking, a chance opportunity brought her into the Gordon Ramsay stable and there she formed an incredible bond with her boss and mentor Marcus Wareing.

Today, Chantelle is the chef-patron of Tredwell’s in Covent Garden, the group operations director for Marcus Wareing Restaurants – we have no idea where she finds the time – and this summer, her meteoric rise was recognised with the Manager of the Year Catey.

Robyn Jones Lifetime Achievement - Prue Leith
Sponsored by Troika Recruitment – presented by Justine van Zijl, Troika Recruitment

Prue Leith has had an extraordinary career – and one that doesn’t show any signs of fading any time soon. Born in South Africa in 1940, Prue went on to become one of the first female entrepreneurs in the hospitality industry. She has been a restaurateur, caterer, journalist, cookery writer and novelist, not to mention the creator of a cookery school in London and a chefs’ academy in her beloved South Africa. And for the past decade or so, she has been a very familiar face on our television screens.

Prue has received countless awards including the Veuve Cliquot Business Woman of the Year in 1990, 11 honorary degrees or fellowships from UK universities, an OBE, CBE and the Special Catey Award. In the foreword to the Little Book of Diversity, she wrote “society still accepts that wives will stay at home for a night-working husband, but wives should be at home if their husbands are. We need to change attitudes and that only happens with determined effort.”

Prue has been a beacon for female operators the world over, and has without doubt inspired many women in hospitality to follow her lead.