An Ambassador Class Service


Philip Atkinson – Ambassador to The Industry – People Awards

“I have faced many challenges and obstacles throughout my career, learning from my mistakes, but each one of them has only strengthened me to make me the person I am today.” – Philip Atkinson

With over 30 years’ experience, Philip Atkinson, Senior Community Food Service Manager at Durham University Catering understands that the hospitality industry revolves around people, not only your valued customers, but the people you work with every day. The people you train and develop, the people who make your teams the best they can possibly be.

“My first role was actually at Durham University whilst studying at college,” Philip recalled, “I was studying catering but secured the role at the university in the pot wash, which then led to gaining experience in food preparation and food service.”  The role introduced him to mass catering but also to dealing with, and meeting clients at a face-to-face level, conversing, interacting and learning how to give a great experience.  “I tried to use what I learned at college within the role and take away what I was picking up back into my academic work,” he said.

After leaving college, Philip gained a permanent role with Trusthouse Forte Hotels and also Moathouse Hotels, where he spent more than five years working across each department, gaining the necessary experience through trainee management programmes.

Philip later transferred back to Durham University, and he found that he had a job on his hands. “I had to inspire team members within a sector who had a legacy of low standards, unskilled staff and low productivity.” Philip explains, “There was a lingering perception of University catering staff being ‘dinner ladies’ and Durham historically struggled to attract high calibre talent. I led the development of a recruitment video to provide visual insight into ‘what we actually do’, with the thinking that ‘a picture can paint a thousand words’”. The video also helps applicants understand Durham University Catering’s purpose, its strategy and their core values before deciding whether to join the team. This is an approach has been shared widely and adopted by other University departments and north-east catering organisations facing similar challenges.

Philip’s innovative thinking led him to consider changes to recruitment in the department. “I believed that shortlisting certain catering job applications based on qualifications and standard of English was unfitting,” he said. “So to increase the amount of talent at interview stage, I removed the written application shortlisting process for entry level vacancies. Instead, all applicants are invited to an interview stage, where the formal panel style interview was replaced with a ‘speed dating’ style interviews, where positive behaviour is scored using standardised questions and simple work related tasks.” Again, after proving highly effective this new recruitment approach was shared widely, and is now adopted throughout the University and Visit England’s award winning Beamish Museum.

Philip initiated a strong Learning & Development programme within the University Catering Department. “We have a transparent career path document. I have coached over 33 team members within the previous four years, helping them to achieve promotion.

The Durham University Catering induction programme commences with ‘Passionately Delivering Outstanding Experiences’, an interactive classroom based induction, delivered by the department’s senior management team along with Philip himself and thanks to his operational and industry knowledge, he has the ability to clearly deliver the department’s strategic objectives, and empower their new team members. “I am University Catering’s training champion,” says Philip. “I’m focused on strengthening skills.” Following the department’s success, Philip has been seconded by the wider University training team who are responsible for over 4,000 contracted staff, to assist with the development of a facility-wide customer care training programme.

30 years is a long time in the business and Philip Atkinson has seen standards rise across the board. “’Considering our ‘customers’ are predominately students, their expectations and demands are now at a very high level. They require value for money, flexibility, nutritional value and quality.  They are very knowledgeable therefore we need to deliver exceptional products and service.”

Philip Atkinson has shaped and improved the University and the north-east catering sector in a quest for excellence and has genuinely made Durham University Catering and the industry a better place to work. In doing so, he has won the coveted Ambassador to The Industry award at the 2017 People Awards, a singular honour and one of which he is immensely proud. “I was extremely honoured to receive the Ambassador to the Industry Award as was my line manager who nominated me. The recognition received from colleagues at Durham University was monumental, which included the Pro Vice Chancellor of the University, the Director of Accommodation and Commercial Services and the Director of HR. The news even filtered to my previous line manager who is Operations Manager at Strathclyde University.

“I am earnestly grateful for the recognition I have received for my work.  I am a thorough professional and I know what I’m aiming for and that is always having the customer at the forefront of any task.

“Winning this award would not have been possible without the inspiration I have received from my line manager, colleagues within the department, colleagues from other departments including HR, Procurement, Sales and external suppliers all for whom I have the deepest respect, and from whom I have derived the strength to challenge myself and perform better at each stage.”

As for the future, Philip Atkinson said, “I plan to stay committed to the organisation, delivering a high and progressive service, ensuring our students receive and maintain the most outstanding experience during their time studying at Durham University. Alongside student service we must make sure that the University remains at the pinnacle of commercial food service within the northeast.”

We congratulate Philip and his team and wish them every success for the future.


We’re not Recruiters – We’re Career Architects


Industry leaders gather to discuss Recruiting Top Talent

The UK Hospitality industry employs nearly 4.5 million people, making it the fourth largest sector in the country. Over the last five years, 1 in 5 new jobs in the UK has been within the hospitality industry with a further 100,000 due to be created by the end of the decade. Hospitality employers are facing increasing recruitment challenges, and the long standing skills gap and labour shortage is a key reason.

Whilst there is undoubtedly a lack of labour, there are still plenty of skilled workers in the market, and many more who have the potential to deliver at a high level. But the workforce has changed. Top talent is more demanding than ever and securing the candidates you want to hire means a new, agile approach.

In the latest in a series of fascinating discussions based around research, a group of influential hospitality employers were invited to a employer roundtable on ‘Recruiting Top Talent’. The attendees openly shared their experience, innovative approaches, challenges and top tips as they debated the recruitment methods of the present and the future.

The session, chaired by Sales Director, Neil Pattison, began with concerns regarding candidate drop-off between interview and job offer. Martyn Ball, HR Director at Ascott International Management noted that despite efforts to speed up the interview process, candidates were calling a week before their start date and stating that they had another, more attractive job offer. “Entry level workers seem to like to have options,” he said. “Previously a candidate wouldn’t dream of letting you down, now they seem to be applying for several jobs at once and picking the best option for them.”

This example illustrates why responding to candidates in a timely fashion is now crucial. According to research, the majority of employers are taking up to two weeks between advertising a role and holding the first round of interviews. This needs to change industry-wide if employers are to avoid losing out on the best candidates. Talent won’t wait. It was also agreed that, apart from shortening the interview process, methods of trialling candidates had to be abridged, or eliminated altogether. Many found that the length of trial days was an off-putting part of getting the job especially when experience has already been outlined on CVs and during interviews

Another change noted by several participants is that entry level candidates are bold, and know (or think they know) their value. Many, even at this early stage in their careers, aren’t afraid of negotiating up on salaries and benefits. Jose Ruiz, HR Director at The London EDITION said that younger members of the workforce often want to change jobs every nine to ten months, and are not prepared to stay in the same position for more than a year. People want constant progression in their lives and again, employers have to respond. Some employers are creating processes that anticipate these issues. There is more flexibility in salary discussions, benefits are being tailored to the candidate and development programmes are being offered specifically for candidates who want their career to progress in a particular direction.

Not only are salary and benefits changing, some HR departments are manoeuvring their whole approach in order to win the fight for great candidates. Instead of making the recruitment process about the company, they are individualising employment offers and making the job fit around the person. As Jose Ruiz says, “We’re no longer recruiters, we’re career architects.” More emphasis is being placed on the applicant to discover what the employer can do for them. It’s about thinking like the candidate you want to hire. Georgina Stephens, Head of HR at Ceviche UK said, “You tweak your offer so that you win their heart as well as their mind.”

For some employers, the way to keep candidates engaged is via “gamification”; almost turning the recruitment process into a challenge with the job offer as a prize to be won. Although a popular recruitment method in other sectors, ‘gamification’ is only now beginning to be seen in hospitality. Candidates can sometimes feel ‘lost’ during the recruitment process, unsure of what stage they are at or whether the job is worth their time. In an environment where candidates may have applied for multiple roles, or be up against many other candidates, regular and memorable communications from the employer can help keep great candidates interested in your role. In one approach, applicants are sent evolving communications with a graphic illustration of the recruitment process, showing them the stage they are currently at and what’s next. It’s a novel approach, but some employers have witnessed significantly increased engagement as a result. After all, if you’ve invested in attracting candidates, it pays to keep them interested.

Candidate engagement isn’t easy. It was agreed that keeping candidates engaged from application, through to interview and on-boarding requires thought and skill. Jose Ruiz noted, “In hospitality, it can be very much hit and miss. Some people have an amazing experience, others can have an awful experience. The way they are welcomed, on-boarding, the three month trial, there are so many things that we are not getting correct.” This is perhaps why a focus on employer brand and emphasising company culture has come to the fore in recent years. In order to make this work, listening to your people is important. Discovering just what your company culture is will help in finding your voice when speaking to applicants and thus creating strong engagement.

Understanding how your future workforce is applying for your vacancies is crucial. Optimising ads for mobile, shortening the application-to-interview process, perceiving the needs of the candidate and their personal goals is of the utmost importance if recruitment numbers in hospitality and the sector as a whole are to grow. Get in touch now for the full findings of our research.

We thank all who took part in our roundtable. If you would like to participate in future discussions, please contact

Fresh ideas at Hotelymipa 2018

It was a night of huge celebration for our winners and with the afterglow of the 2017 People Awards still in full effect, it’s important to remember that such a wonderful evening would never have been possible without the sterling support and commitment of our amazing sponsors.

Sponsoring the Emerging Talent Initiative category was Fresh Montgomery, producers of Hotelympia 2018. Ross Carter, Portfolio Director of Fresh Montgomery said, “Schemes like People Awards seek to shine a light on best practice and employer initiatives that work hard to boost productivity and safeguard retention.”

The Emerging Talent Initiative category was won by Q Hotels who took employee engagement to another level with a new and all-encompassing approach. With a strong focus on relationship building with schools, European colleges, and UK Universities together with their Management Development Programme, apprenticeships and a solid social network strategy, Q Hotels garnered fantastic results. This year alone, the company has presented 64 in-school careers support days, have welcomed 135 school work experience placements and have reduced their temporary staff costs by over £400,000. “This really is something to celebrate,” said Ross. “Hotelympia is proud to support these Awards and we applaud the deserved winner of our category, Q Hotels.”

Hotelympia continues to grow year on year and will return to London in 2018. The show began life over 80 years ago under the guise of the Hotel, Restaurant and Catering Show, before being rebranded as Hotelympia which is a nod to its original home of Olympia in West London,” explains Ross Carter.

Finally outgrowing its roots, the show moved to a new permanent home at London’s ExCeL in 2004, and today stands as the largest and most vital event in the UK hospitality calendar.

“Despite its rich heritage, the show has never once rested on its laurels, mirroring the vibrant industry that it serves, to stay relevant and always ahead of the curve in terms of innovation and insight,” Ross continued.

The ethos of the 2018 show will be no different, yet there are going to be some exciting new future-focused elements, tackling hot-button issues and championing future industry stars, which will sit perfectly alongside returning features, to help Hotelympia maintain its position at the head of the pack.

Whist the show will stay true to its remit, Ross is excited by upcoming changes and its growth. “The show has a new organising team at the helm and we are currently working with a steering committee of influential figures from the world of hospitality to ensure that its content and themes are exactly on point and this will benefit all of our exhibitors and visitors.”

The sheer scale of the show means that it comprehensively covers every element of the hospitality business, showcasing the very latest products and launches in Food & Drink; Catering Equipment; Technology; Interiors & Tableware and sustainability-focused waste-works, from some of the most respected companies in the game. “We also pride ourselves on consistently attracting top level speakers,” said Ross. “From the up-and-coming to those who have seen and done it all. They all impart their wisdom and share insight and experiences, and they all offer visitors inspiration to take back to their own place of work.”

There are certainly pressing recruitment issues facing the hospitality industry right now, among them; a well-documented skills shortage, Brexit and a negative perception of careers within the sector with one recent report suggesting that only 17% of parents regard hospitality as a positive career choice. “It’s clear that we are suffering from an image problem,” Ross commented. “Those of us who work daily in hospitality know different, of course, but there is definitely a job of work to be done to change such ideas.

“Hotelympia is a big show and, as such, won’t shy away from the big issues,” Ross continued. “That means subjects like recruitment, skills, women, the gender pay gap, productivity, retention and apprenticeships, will be tacked head-on, helping to lift some of the fog surrounding each of these issues and demonstrate that the industry can offer young people a viable and successful career.”

Hotelympia has a long history of welcoming and nurturing the next generation of chefs, designers, restaurateurs and publicans. Ross Carter says that this will continue in earnest through existing elements like Salon Culinaire, with the same ethos permeating into new standalone features that will help inspire and inform. People Awards and Fresh Montgomery have enjoyed a long a fruitful relationship. We thank them for their continued support and for their work as a vital part of the UK hospitality industry. Hotelympia 2018 takes place at the ExCel Centre, London from the 5 -8 March 2018.

Hospitality employers adapt to a changing People Awards 2017

With some of the best restaurants and hotels in the world, the UK Hospitality sector boasts amazing standards and quality of service. The industry is one of the UK’s biggest employers, providing jobs to seven percent of the working population and – despite an approaching Brexit – business continues to be strong.

It’s a fast paced, ever-changing business with candidates becoming more decisive in what they want from their employers. Applicants are negotiating their own salaries, selecting their benefits and shaping the career path that’s right for them. In addition, the well-documented skills shortage is still being felt across the country and, when Brexit is factored in, hospitality companies have work doubly hard to stay connected and relevant to this new brand of candidate whist still being able to recruit the right people for the job, develop their skills and retain valuable experience. Employers need to utilise inventive methods to attract the talent they so desperately need amidst high competition.

The finest of these initiatives in hospitality recruitment, retention and development were celebrated on October 5th, at the glittering People Awards. Comedienne, Katherine Ryan hosted the ceremony at Park Plaza Westminster Bridge which was attended by 500 industry professionals.

Best practice by employers garners best results: the winners of these prestigious awards demonstrated determination and an unrivalled understanding of their industry and their workforce.

After its success last year with In-House Recruitment, this year the National Theatre won the Candidate Experience award. Considering that 55% of The National Theatre’s commercial workforce is casual, their current retention rate of 70% is quite an accomplishment. National Theatre has taken a creative and innovative approach to recruitment in recent years and they pride themselves on an open and inclusive policy. They have achieved much success with their focus on ‘Audience Experience’. Their candidate training programme allows staff to engage in several roles across the commercial department making for a more varied and exciting working environment and the National Theatre’s internal promotion rate is an inspiring 75%.

Living by their watchword, ‘Seva’, Indian street food restaurant, Dishoom won two awards, Rewards & Benefits and Launch Campaign. Leaving London for the first time, Dishoom opened their new restaurant in Edinburgh this year. It was a massive gamble for this young company to venture to what could have been a difficult location in a much smaller market. They designed a PR campaign announcing new jobs for the city, they also reviewed all recruitment adverts to ensure the pitch was exactly right for Scotland. They also set up dedicated Edinburgh recruitment channels and hired a local marketing manager. In a wonderful move, unsuccessful applicants were invited back for breakfast on the company, reinforcing their employer brand. Dishoom received 1,200 applications and hired 100 new team members. Their employee turnover this year has been an amazing 30%. Dishoom’s Rewards & Benefits entry also impressed the judges. Dishoom are delighted to offer their team members £150 a month to spend on food and drink with family and friends at their restaurants. There are frequent team days out, lunches, theatre trips and parties. Dishoom has introduced healthcare benefits which covers day-to-day healthcare costs. In team surveys, 90% of management teams said that they were proud to work for the company and management turnover has fallen to below 15%.

Totally revolutionising their recruitment strategy, YO! Sushi now puts brand values and its candidates at the centre of their processes. In doing so, it walked away last night with the award for Leadership in Recruitment, Retention and Development. In an extremely strong showing, YO! developed a brand new candidate platform which showcases just what it’s like to work at YO! Its website now features live career opportunities and stories from YO! Icons, giving a real taste of the company. Their Brand values, Respectful, Unconventional, Colourful and Confident have been brought to the digital fore and are front and centre in online applications. Time to hire management roles has fallen from eight to just five weeks and the volume of live opportunities has fallen from a monthly average of 15 to under 10.

This year saw the introduction of a new award focusing on Diversity, which was won by Compass Group. Compass Group launched the ‘Women in Food’ programme in 2016 to enable women not just to secure jobs within hospitality, but to thrive and succeed in leadership team positions with a goal of equal numbers of male and female chefs within the organisation. ‘Women in Food’ concentrates on three areas of development: focus on female chefs; developing women in leadership positions; and a strong emphasis on supporting Mums returning to work. Within the first year of the programme, Compass Group has achieved a result of 36% female chefs, 49% attending talent development programmes and 42% of women on the company’s chef apprenticeship programme versus a target of 50%.  A hugely impressive result.

The climax of the 2017 People Awards ceremony was certainly the presentation of the very special Ambassador to the Industry Award to Philip Atkinson, Senior Community Food Service Manager at Durham University Catering Department. With a distinguished 30 year career in hospitality, Philip invigorated his brand in what could traditionally be seen as an “unglamorous” career choice. He has completely re-imagined his department to attract, engage and excite candidates from all backgrounds. He has achieved impressive results across retention and development as well as fantastic outreach and sustainability programmes. Philip is undoubtedly a much loved and respected leader, a true Ambassador to the industry, fully deserving this award in recognition for his achievements.

These and many other amazing initiatives are testament to the dedication that hospitality employers have to their businesses and importantly, their employees. Over the coming months, we’ll be talking to each of our amazing winners and taking a close look at their work. People Awards are the perfect opportunity for employers to not only celebrate their teams and their hard work but to share with each other what they have learned, enabling this amazing industry to grow.

The 2017 People Awards wouldn’t have been possible without the invaluable help of its sponsors, Headline Sponsor, Octane HR Solutions, Hotelympia 2018, Admiral Recruitment, Core Recruitment, Off to Work, Detail 2 Leisure Recruitment, People Bank, Talent Hive and Good & Co. People Awards 2017

Winners in full

Ambassador to the Industry sponsored by Octane HR Solutions

Philip Atkinson – Durham University Catering Department


Candidate Experience sponsored by Off to Work

National Theatre


Diversity sponsored by Admiral Recruitment

Compass Group


Emerging Talent Initiative sponsored by Fresh Montgomery, producers of Hotelympia 2018

Q Hotels


Employee Engagement Programme sponsored by Good & Co.

LEON Restaurants Ltd.


Employer Brand Campaign sponsored Catering Scotland

Devonshire Hotels and Restaurants


HR Team sponsored by Talent Hive

Dorchester Hotel Ltd.


In-House Recruitment Team sponsored by Admiral Recruitment



Learning & Development Initiative sponsored by The Springboard Charity

Brewhouse and Kitchen


Launch Campaign sponsored by Detail 2 Leisure



Leadership in Recruitment, Retention & Development sponsored by COREcruitment

YO! Sushi


On-Boarding Programme sponsored by Peoplebank

LEON Restaurants Ltd.


Rewards & Benefits sponsored by James Hallam




Winners Announced

Last night, the Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge played host to the hospitality industry event of the year, the 2017 People Awards. Hosted by comedienne, Katherine Ryan, the ceremony celebrated the very finest programmes and initiatives in hospitality recruitment, retention and development.

It was an exciting night for the shortlisted employers and a hugely successful one for the 13 winners who ended up walking away with those prestigious trophies.

Neil Pattison, Sales Director for said, “The landscape of the hospitality industry changes each year and recruiting and retaining the best talent remains a challenge. Our amazing winners demonstrated determination, ingenuity and invention, not only in finding new ways to recruit, but also in developing skills and very importantly, adapting to an ever-changing workforce.”

Our People Awards wouldn’t have been possible without the invaluable help of our sponsors and we would like to take this opportunity to thank our Headline Sponsor, Octane HR Solutions and our category sponsors Admiral Recruitment, Catering Scotland, Core Recruitment, Detail 2 Leisure Recruitment, Good & Co, Hotelympia 2018, Octane HR Solutions, Off to Work, People Bank, Springboard and Talent Hive.


Winners in full 

Ambassador to the Industry

Philip Atkinson – Durham University Catering Department

Candidate Experience Initiative

National Theatre


Compass Group

Emerging Talent Initiative

Q Hotels

Employee Engagement Programme

LEON Restaurants Ltd.

Employer Brand Campaign

Devonshire Hotels and Restaurants

HR Team

Dorchester Hotel Ltd.

In-House Recruitment Team


Learning & Development Initiative

Brewhouse and Kitchen

Launch Campaign


Leadership in Recruitment, Retention & Development

YO! Sushi

On-Boarding Programme

LEON Restaurants Ltd.

Rewards & Benefits


Tonight’s the Night

….and we couldn’t be more excited. We’re looking forward to welcoming you all this evening to the Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge in the heart of London for the 2017 People Awards.

Join your host, the hilarious Katherine Ryan and 500 fellow industry professionals as we raise a glass to the very best initiatives in hospitality recruitment, retention and development.

Proceedings kick off with our drinks reception at 6.30pm where you can mingle and network to your heart’s content before dinner is served at 7.30pm. You’ll be treated to a delicious three course meal featuring delights such as a poached salmon, goat’s cheese parcel with young leaves and artichoke, spiced herbed chicken with sun blushed tomatoes and cucumber. Main courses will include chargrilled yellow and green courgette parcel filled with ratatouille, with red & yellow peppers, pesto risotto, herb oil & balsamic glaze, while dessert promises a Yuzu and lemon tart, fresh raspberry, Italian rose meringue and an exotic coulis.

At 9.15pm, the tension racks up as the awards ceremony begins and we find out just who has won this year’s coveted awards. Each category highlights the hard work and dedication demonstrated by employers across the sector. This year’s shortlisted companies include Living Ventures, YO! Sushi, The Doyle Collection, Jumeirah London, Byron Hamburgers, LEON Restaurants Ltd. and Village Hotels.

After the ceremony, the bar will remain open and we expect to see all of you on the dancefloor as DJ Fabrizia takes you into the early hours.

Our awards are now in their seventh year. Over 150 companies representing over 213,000 employees entered the awards this year and there are 51 fantastic shortlisted entrants and, of course, 13 very deserving winners. We cannot wait to see you tonight to celebrate your hard work and achievements.

Get tweeting now @Catererdotcom #PeopleAwards17 and don’t forget that our Twitter wall will be in full effect all evening, so make sure photos of you and your table are up there.

The 2017 People Awards would not be possible without the support of our sponsors and we are grateful to our Headline Sponsor, Octane HR Solutions and our category sponsors Admiral Recruitment, Catering Scotland, Core Recruitment, Detail 2 Leisure Recruitment, Good & Co, Hotelympia 2018, Octane HR Solutions, Off to Work, People Bank, Springboard and Talent Hive.

See you later!

Putting on The Ritz!

John Williams MBE wins The AA Chef’s Chef of the Year 2017

Huge congratulations to John Williams MBE on winning the coveted AA 2017 Chef’s Chef of the Year. is extremely proud to have once again sponsored this prestigious award. Neil Pattison, Sales Director of, who presented the award at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel said “John is clearly loved and respected by his peers. He’s an extraordinary talent and deserves this accolade 100%. We really hope that this win serves as an inspiration to the next generation of upcoming UK chefs.”

From modest beginnings in a Tyneside fishing family to executive head chef at The Ritz, John Williams’s career as a hotel chef has headed ever upwards from the time he saw one of the pioneering TV chefs, The Galloping Gourmet himself, Graham Kerr,  in action and decided that cooking was the way to go. Trained on a classical cookery course at a technical college, Williams still believes in the value of learning the basics and importantly, nurturing up-and-coming talent through apprenticeships, an ethos he promotes in his role as Chairman of the Academy of Culinary Arts (ACA).

Starting his career at a country-house hotel in Northumberland, the siren call of the capital lured him to the Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington where an inspirational eight-year sojourn with Rémy Fougère developed his craft and laid the solid classical French foundations that we still see today.

Williams knew early on that his future career was at the helm of a brigade in a big hotel kitchen rather than in a restaurant. Securing a place amid the tradition, heritage and history of Claridge’s and under the aegis of Mario Lesnik, Williams further honed his skills for nine years. This was followed by a stay at The Berkeley before Williams felt the irresistible lure of arguably the world’s grandest of grand hotels, The Ritz, in 2004, where he remains Executive Chef. John Williams is a chef who prefers the heat of the kitchen to the sparkle of the TV studio lights, he counts Michel Bourdin and Brian Turner amongst his own mentors, and has consistently raised the bar for the UK’s young chefs through his motivational work via the ACA.


Engaging, Interactive, Intuitive

Octane HR Solutions are your new ‘Partners in Crime’

The excitement is building! The 2017 People Awards are getting ever closer and tickets are selling at a rate of knots. It truly is the hospitality event of the year, a chance to  celebrate the very best initiatives in recruitment, retention and development with the most influential movers and shakers in UK hospitality employment.

Of course, these very special awards simply couldn’t happen without the participation of our sponsors, so we checked in with our Headline Sponsor, Octane HR Solutions to find out more about their work from Co-Founder, Nick Meads.

Octane HR Solutions has unique foundations. Their digital recruitment and retention solutions have been created by a team of creatives, communicators and coders with a vision to help businesses connect more powerfully and profitably with colleagues. With almost 30 years in multidiscipline design and as Octane’s head creative honcho, Nick Meads’ responsibility is to ensure that this unique spirit runs through every piece of work they deliver. “I’ve honed these skills in some amazing roles working for top brands,” said Nick. “This included 12 years as Executive Creative Director EMEA for global agency Carlson Marketing Group, working on international FMCG and travel brands. At the other end of the scale, I have very fond memories of starting my first brand agency, Seed, in the shed at the bottom of my garden. It was where I won accounts like TGI Fridays and St Austell Brewery, clients that we still enjoy great relationships with today.”

Nick feels that Octane has always been pretty fearless when it comes to disrupting the status quo. “Our original ATS platform was created because a leading casual dining chain was fed up with the limited choice on offer in the marketplace,” he says. “They wanted something engaging, interactive, intuitive and bespoke to their needs. They came to our sister agency Octane Communications Studio because they wanted an innovative solution to a traditional problem.” The company solved the challenge, scooped some awards and in the process Octane HR Solutions was born.

Needless to say, Nick feels very proud of their achievements. “Our understanding of brands and how technology can help colleagues amplify that is what truly sets us apart,” he explains. “We excel in bringing to life the employer brand in what would otherwise be a pretty boring setting.” Octane’s ATS and engagement platforms are everything but boring.  “Our products aren’t just digital solutions, they’re beautifully crafted to look the part too, with the backend looking as good as the front. Why should the hiring manager have to use a platform that looks like an 80’s accounting system?

“Importantly, we do not shoehorn our clients into rigid functionality and you don’t need to be techy to get to grips with our products,” he continues, “we tailor our product to meet the needs of each unique business. Our systems are simple for both the hiring manager and the candidate. For example, we build beautifully crafted bespoke candidate career portals like IGNITE, our employee engagement platform. We’ve designed everything to break down barriers, reduce drop off and make the management and on-boarding of candidates as simple as possible.”

Of course, we all want the recruitment process to be as painless as possible, especially within hospitality, and Nick Meads feels that Octane’s systems really do enhance and streamline conventional methods. “’Fuel’, Octane’s recruitment and talent management tool, offers more than just a cost per hire reduction. By providing an immersive brand experience, our hospitality customers can balance the need for volume applications with quality candidates, helping them truly differentiate in a crowded sector that often looks very homogenous. Octane’s platforms have been designed and built in a way that makes it easy for people, whose day job is not always centred around recruitment, to effortlessly find and hire their dream team.”

Nick is extremely enthusiastic about Octane’s continued work with industry. “We want to continue to work with hospitality brands that aspire to think and behave differently. If you don’t want to settle for average or ordinary, Octane HR Solutions are your new partners in crime.”

Nick and his team will be in attendance at our People Awards, make sure you are too. For more information contact

Where will you be on October 5th?

The last remaining tickets for the 2017 People Awards are now available and they’re waiting for you.

On October 5th, the leaders in UK hospitality recruitment will be donning their glad rags for this, the industry event of the year and you just have to be there. The spectacular Park Plaza Westminster Bridge is the venue where the bold and the best of the industry will gather to celebrate the very best initiatives in hospitality recruitment, retention & development.

There are 13 categories this year, each showcasing the hard work and dedication demonstrated by employers across the sector. This year’s nominees include Accor Hotels, Compass Group, Cycas Hospitality, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Reds True Barbeque, Copthorne Tara Hotel, Devonshire Hotels and Restaurants, Greene King, Rocco Forte Hotels and Ceviche Limited.

This glorious industry is built upon delivering amazing experiences, and our People Awards will not disappoint. Besides discovering just who will walk away with the coveted 13 trophies, you will be treated to a fabulous three course dinner, along with wines picked to complement the menu perfectly.

The Banqueting Department at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge will bring you a seasonal menu featuring a trio of starters; poached salmon, goat cheese parcel with young leaves and artichoke, spiced herbed chicken with sun blushed tomatoes and cucumber. Main courses will include chargrilled yellow & green courgette parcel filled with ratatouille, with red & yellow peppers, pesto risotto, herb oil & balsamic glaze, while dessert promises a Yuzu and lemon tart, fresh raspberry, Italian rose meringue and an exotic coulis.

We’ll have a fresh Stones Throw White, Apostrophe Wines 2015 from Pemberton, Western Australia and Mâcon Serrieres, Domaine Monterrain 2014 to accompany this wonderful meal and of course, you can’t celebrate without bubbles so you’re sure to adore the Cava Seleccion +&+, Brut NV, Bodegas Pinord, Penedès, that we’ll be serving at the drinks reception. Salud!

We’re hugely excited about our host for the evening. This year we welcome the hilarious and supercool Katherine Ryan, who we know will deliver a knockout performance. She’ll be ably assisted by King of the Voice Overs, the sensational Peter Dickson. As if all of this weren’t not enough, there’ll be plenty of opportunity to enjoy the bar and the dancefloor until 1am, with the help of DJ Fabrizia!

If networking is your thing, you couldn’t hope to be in better company. Almost every employer from our shortlist will be in attendance amongst the 500 guests. So join LEON Restaurants Ltd., Liverpool FC, Rezidor Hotels, DISHOOM, National Theatre, YO! Sushi, The Doyle Collection, The Dorchester, London Heathrow Marriott, Byron Hamburgers, Hilton Worldwide, Principal Hotel Company, Jumeirah Living, Baxter Storey, The Savoy, The London EDITION, Malmaison Hotel du Vin, Brewhouse and Kitchen not to mention our illustrious headline sponsor Octane HR Solutions, plus category sponsors PeopleBank, Talent Hive COREcrutiment, Fresh Montgomery, Off to Work, Admiral Recruitment, Good & Co., Springboard and Catering in Scotland for what is going to be an amazing night.

There are very few tickets remaining. The booking deadline is 18th September, individual tickets are £235 + vat with limited tables of 10 now available at £2200 + vat. You just have to be there. Get in touch now to secure your place

A Hive Mind for recruitment

Talent Hive brings its expertise to the 2017 People Awards

At, we believe that in this current climate of skills shortages, getting your recruitment strategy right from the beginning is crucial in order to secure and retain the talent you need to run your hospitality business. This has to be understood right across the industry and we’re pleased that Talent Hive sees the situation exactly the way we do. We’re ecstatic to say that they are sponsoring the HR Team category at the 2017 People Awards.

Will Gennard, Managing Director of Talent Hive said, “We’ve always wanted to get involved with industry awards to recognise talent, and People Awards are an ideal platform for us to give something back and celebrate the industry as a whole.”

Kathy Dyball, Head of Marketing at said, “The HR Team shortlist in our People Awards always focuses on the amazing and inventive work that HR departments are doing across the industry. We’re very happy that Talent Hive, a company with character and a unique working style has partnered with us to sponsor this exciting category.”

After ten years within the restaurant industry and then seven years in hospitality recruitment, Talent Hive’s head honcho, Will Gennard set up the company in 2014. “I wanted to offer a more approachable recruitment solution for our clients whereby we forge a partnership and become an extended arm of their HR function,” he said, “this enables us to work more effectively on their behalf which in turn produces better results.”

Will believes that the thing that sets Talent Hive apart from other agencies is that every consultant within the company has a background in the hospitality industry. Will said, “They range from former pastry chefs through to hotel managers and they really have the inside knowledge required to make informed decisions when it comes to recruitment.”

Talent Hive has the know-how, but Will understands the concerns that employers have right now. “Chef recruitment remains an issue for most of our clients,” he says. “I’ve been working with several employers over the past few years on not only recruiting the right chefs, but retaining the talent they already have within their business. We need to change our kitchen culture and create an environment in which it becomes a desirable career to have.”

Talent Hive is bringing its expertise to a particularly competitive category as the HR Team shortlist showcases some fantastic entries from Baxter Storey, Dorchester Hotel Ltd., IHG, The Belfry Hotel and Resort and Village Hotels. Last year’s winner was Jumeirah London, who wowed the judges with impressive results in talent retention. Dawn Vermeire, Director of Human Resources at Jumeirah said, “In an employment market in which there is high competition amongst our competitors for top talent, retention can be achieved to a large extent by ensuring our workforce are engaged. We see our role in HR as critical to supporting the business with this objective, and providing the support our line managers require.” The team at Jumeirah London were thrilled with their win. Dawn remarked, “We are all very creative individuals who seek to do things differently in HR and this win has made us all extremely proud and excited about the future.”

Will Gennard feels that People Awards is an important event, “It’s a fantastic platform to enable us to recognise the super talent we have within our industry. When I was working within restaurants, there weren’t so many initiatives like this. I really feel this helps us retain talent and celebrate our industry. We are very proud and honoured to be part of this wonderful evening.”

Who will walk away with the HR Team award this year? Be there to find out. The 2017 People Awards will take place at the Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge on October 5th. 500 industry leaders will be in attendance, so join them at the hospitality event of the year. Tables are still available by contacting

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