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Spotlighting Innovation: Learning & Development

For those leading employers, a strong Learning and Development programme is a key part of their recruitment strategy.

Learning & Development

With one week left to secure your tickets for this year’s People Awards, we look at another impressive shortlist.

For those leading employers, a strong Learning and Development programme is a key part of their recruitment strategy. An engaged and better skilled workforce benefits not only the employer but also the employee, resulting in higher retention rates and a more fluent customer service. A good L&D programme can also provide attraction for top talent searching for the right ‘fit’ with an employer.

Increasingly, candidates know exactly where they want to be on their career path and they want the tools to get there. Now more than ever, a great Learning & Development package is essential in not only recruiting top talent, but retaining them. Many L&D managers agree that training, formal or not, needs to be an on-going process, equipping and enriching your team, bringing out the best in the individual and also your brand.

The shortlist is:

  • Ceviche Family
  • City Pub Group
  • Classic Lodges Hotels
  • Cote Restaurants Ltd
  • D&D London
  • LEON
  • Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London
  • Michels & Taylor Hotel Management Ltd

Judging the Learning & Development category for the 2018 People Awards were:

Alex Buchanan – Editor,

As editor of (CS) Alex Buchanan has over 15 years’ experience in the hospitality-publishing and events sectors.

Acquiring Catering Scotland (CS) magazine with business partner Gordon Clark as part of a management buyout in 2003, the duo established the CIS Excellence Awards the following year.

In the past decade they have launched and established as the industry’s go-to resource for the catering, tourism and hospitality sectors in Scotland, and have continued to grow the CIS Awards into the leading corporate awards programme for the sector.

With plans afoot to expand the CIS Excellence brand into new sectors in 2018, Alex is enthusiastic about the future of the hospitality industry. Married with three children and no time for anything, he lives in the Scottish Borders.

Caroline Lowe – Director of Human Resources, Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5

Caroline has held Director of HR and Cluster People Development roles throughout her career in the hospitality industry within Hilton, Rezidor and Marriott hotels.

Joining the HILTON T5 team as part of the pre-opening team, Caroline has established the hotel as an award winner in people management initiatives and achievements, receiving recognition from Hilton Brand awards, Hotel Catey’s and the People Awards.

Caroline has led the team to develop the first Supported Internship Programme for young people within the hospitality industry, which is now it is fifth year of success, offering ground breaking employment opportunities and supporting a diverse new recruitment stream, and unique opportunities for our team to fulfill the HILTON T5 vision.

Dawn Wynne – Head of HR, Dalata Hotel Group

Dawn is a graduate of Glasgow Caledonian University and has spent her entire working career in hospitality.  Originally from an Operational background, and having worked for Dalata Hotel Group plc for ten years Dawns role as Head of Human Resources sees her with responsibility for driving the people strategy in this progressive and dynamic plc.

Employing over 4000 people in the UK and Ireland Dawn believes that the key to continued success, and vital to the continued expansion of the company is a HR Strategy that focuses on a culture of continuous learning & development, talent development and most importantly a culture that is all about their people. This strategy, supported by the group’s benefits structure that involves opportunity to own and benefit from shares in the company along with unlimited career opportunities are one of the many reasons Dawn is so proud to be leading the Group HR team and HR Managers across the Maldron and Clayton Hotels in Dalata Hotel Group plc.

Janene Petorious – Director of People, The Ivy Collection

Janene was born and raised in South Africa where she picked up a keen interest in the hospitality industry very early on. From the age of 16 Janene worked in restaurants, taking on a variety of roles during her studies, eventually graduating with a degree in Graphic Design.

In 2001, Janene travelled to the UK where she embarked on a career in hotels and restaurants. After five years in operational roles, Janene decided to apply her passion for people by pursuing a career in Human Resources.

In February 2003, she joined Gaucho and eventually took the role of Head of Staff Training and Development where she implemented The Gaucho Academy. In April 2013, Janene joined Prezzo as Training and HR Director, before moving to The Ivy Collection as Director of People in February 2017.

As Director of People, Janene’s focus is on formulating and embedding a people-centric culture, this includes organisational development, recruitment and retention, training, and developing a strong company ethos.

During her spare time, Janene enjoys travelling, creative arts and eating out.

Julia Murrell – Director of People and Development, Firmdale Hotels

Julia Murrell joined Firmdale Hotels in 2015 and has full responsibility for providing proactive HR across the eight boutique hotels in London and two in New York through building and developing HR strategies to meet business objectives, including attraction, retention, engagement, learning and development.

Prior to this she was Director of People and Development at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Group Talent Manager and People and Development Manager at Malmaison and Hotel du Vin. Julia has some 15 years’ experience working within HR in the hospitality industry.

Julia believes that the key to an engaged team, high standards of service and success is to build on the heart and soul of the business – great communication, ensuring there is something for everyone and to respect everyone’s feedback to develop a great place to work.

Who made the shortlist?

Ceviche Family

Ceviche Family’s overall approach has been one of inclusivity. They approached the strategy with a need to bring their team together, working as a unit and to allow every employee the opportunity to understand the working lives and responsibilities of others. They not only looked at how to induct new employees, but how to re-educate and re-invigorate existing ones. Cross-department working is a key focus for Ceviche Family to build team spirit and to give each member of the team a clearer understanding of how the business works as a whole. As well as providing a new employee with structure, a colleague in each restaurant has been appointed as a trainer, giving them more responsibility and the opportunity to get a £50 bonus for each trainee that completes the programme. The trainers went through a ‘train the trainer’ course and have been empowered to take the lead on imparting all the necessary knowledge to new team members. To cement the knowledge of the new team members, and to refresh that of existing employees, the company partnered with Flow Hospitality to create an online training portal for every team member. The online platform provides training on the company, health and safety and many other things and will be growing throughout the year with new content. Within 4 weeks of launch of the online platform in May this year, over 600 modules had been completed across the group of circa 180 staff, even with the high (90%) pass marks attributed to the end of module exams.

City Pub Group

City Pub Group wanted to provide a more structured learning opportunity for Supervisors and Junior Assistant Managers, so they consulted key team members, GMs and Ops to create a list of key courses. They also created ‘Year of the Chef’, a new Chef Academy utilising funds from the Apprenticeship Levy. They met with several training providers before discovering HIT training who were willing to work with the Group to tailor the course and rebrand it as CPG Chef Academy. They have also begun an ongoing review to continually review their strategy and to stay agile. City Pub Group has  produced 10 Training Mangers who now each have a focused action plan for improving and maintaining service standards in their sites. They also have 10 chefs committed to a 12-18 month training programme.

Classic Lodges Hotels

Classic Lodges Hotels created a ‘Development Centre’ and invited hotels within the group to either nominate candidates or for the team member to nominate themselves to be involved. The first meeting saw 23 employees attend the workshop from nine hotels of which there were 10 places available on their new development programme. The development centre involved four elements, two group exercises, a general maths test and a general English test. There were also team building exercises and a formal interview. All elements were marked and the highest scores received the 10 places. 13 others were given the option of more formal training to help them to be able to attend the next Development Centre. Three team members have gone onto this year’s Vision programme. All 10 students have since passed their NVQ level 3, English & Maths, Personal Licence plus all statutory certificates and the Vision programme.

Cote Restaurants Ltd.

Within 18+ months Cote has completed an in-depth review of how they attract, retain and also develop their teams. Coupled with ambitious plans for future expansion they have successfully implemented a number of new L&D initiatives in a modern and innovative way. Their new employee intranet has addressed many needs around job enrichment, sharing information and best practice and helping to address previous weakness. With 96% of all employees enrolled and with around 600 hits per day, the cascading of information has been greatly enhanced. Newsfeeds allow Cote to showcase best practices and knowledge via videos, pictures and posts, engaging people in a modern and social way. Adding E-learning has encouraged employees to drive their own development. ‘Career Pathways’, Cote’s four-tier development programme is their most successful initiative, with 70% of management roles now filled internally. Within the first 8-months, over 103 people entered the program, with 70% completing and ready for promotion within 1-3 months following acquired knowledge being tested, then demonstrated back in the work place.

D&D London

D&D found that managers were nominating the wrong people to attend training. To put things right, the starting point was to change managers’ mind-set and get buy in to what the company was trying to achieve. To do this D&D held a series of Learning Roadshows across the business in June 2017. The Roadshows allowed the D&D HR Team to explain a new approach to L&D and the positive impacts it would have but it also gave the GMs and opportunity to feedback and have input into what this new system would look like. The key subjects covered at the roadshows were the competency framework, Talking Talent Appraisals and Development Diplomas which form the backbone of a group development offer. The changes were well received especially when discussing talent pipelines and strategic succession planning work. Once launched, the new structure ensured GMs were supported in using the new tools to nominate the right people onto the programme. 50% of staff have now had a formal appraisal which is amazing when you consider that in 2017 no appraisals were conducted.


LEON’s challenge, was to create a structured Learning and Development pathway from team member onwards, that could be shared across the whole Leon family staying true to company values and keeping the Leon magic alive and gave total transparency to the learner and trainer of how to get from one level to the next and what they need to do to get there. The LEON Training Bible was designed to offer a clear career path to move from Team Member to General Manager, with each chapter offering a clear overview of the job description, training plan, and graduation process. Depending on the level, there are also a number of additional supporting materials, such as work books (Big and Strong for Team Members, TC work book for Training Champions and Foundations for managers) courses for further learning as well as a practical observation and individual and group training sessions. As a result for their efforts, 75% of all General Managers have been internally promoted, with 34% of them sitting in the high-performance category of the LEON Talent Map. 60% of all Assistant Managers have been internally promoted with 33% of them sitting in the high performance category.

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London

The new MOLON employer brand continues to be enhanced through their Learning & Development strategy and activities which involve more innovative and creative ways of delivering learning, working on above and beyond service standards. Their new programmes are designed to advance colleagues’ development and their career planning and to keep them interested and emotionally engaged. This supports retention and drives colleague engagement. The increased L&D budget plan is in place to ensure MOLON can complete all required training and the enhanced learning experiences the hotel has planned in line with strategic priorities. MOLON’s Department Trainer Development programme gives team members an opportunity to gain leadership skills within their department. This initiative ensures sustainable quality training across the departments. Twenty six department trainers undergo trainer skills and an inspiring leadership course. An innovative quarterly recognition programme was also launched to align focus and incentivise contribution to deliver targets and objectives. First 17 department trainers have been recognised for their contribution to driving training targets in the first quarter 2018. A total of £1500.00 was paid out as department trainer award.

Michels & Taylor Ltd.

In their first year, Michels & Taylor’s aim was to create a library of commercial ‘off the shelf’ modules that will benefit all Hotel commercial team members; they have been designed for team members to choose the module that will benefit their training needs and the needs of the business. Modules ranged from individual Hotel training days to off-property combined Hotel training and WebEx sessions to offer further support, together with guest speakers to enhance the learning experience. The result was a 12-month training calendar, with actions from each individual to execute back in their Hotels and measured via their KPI’s and commercial decision-making processes.

Who will win the Learning & Development category?

Be there at the 2018 People Awards at the Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge, October 1st to find out.

There are very few tickets left, so don’t miss out.

For table bookings