Former bartender among winners in Women 1st awards

Stepping Up Award (L to R) Lynne Franks (B.Hive) Sarah Swaysland Matt Da...Women at the top of some of the UK’s leading bar operators have been recognised as being among the 100 most influential women in the hospitality industry.

They included the winners of the annual Shine Awards which were also announced last night, with the Stepping Up Award going to former bartender Sarah Swaysland (pictured centre), marketing manager of 17-strong cocktail bar group Be At One.

She was one of 23 female business leaders to be inducted into the Women 1st Top 100 Club of the Most Influential Women in hospitality, passenger transport, travel and tourism. Women 1st was founded by sector skills council People 1st to support women in achieving their career aspirations in the industry.

Others joining the top 100 included Franca Knowles, people director of Beds and Bars, Karen Davies, HR director at Novus Leisure, Susan Martindale, group HR director at Mitchells & Butlers, and Kate Nicholls, strategic affairs director at the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers.

Other winners were Debrah Dhugga, general manager of Dukes St James in London, who was named mentor of the year. The award for woman of the year went to Margot Slattery, managing director Ireland and Northern Ireland at catering contractor Sodexo.

The Rising Star Award went to Babs Coombes, Black Country area manager for Centro, and the title of Outstanding Entrepreneur was won by Cleopatra Browne, managing director of Celtic Quest Coasteering. The large business award went to McDonald’s Restaurants while the small business award was won by Farm Stay UK

The winners and new inductees were announced at a gala dinner at the London Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square, last night.

Other inductees into the Women 1st Top 100 Club of the Most Influential Women were:

    Anita Murray, managing director, William Murray Communications
    Carolyne Vale, co-founder and managing director, Wilson Vale
    Catherine Roe, managing director – trading, Elior UK
    Fiona Legros, managing director, Results Search & Selection
    Fiona Ryland, HR director, Compass Group UK and Ireland
    Julie Moore, managing director, Green Gourmet Ltd.
    Lynn Hood, managing director, The Belfry Hotel and Golf Resort
    Lynne Graham, human resources director, Westbury Street Holdings (WSH)
    Margot Slattery, managing director Ireland and Northern Ireland, Sodexo
    Niccola Boyd-Stevenson, managing director, Panache Consultancy Ltd, and vice-chair, Foodservice Consultants Society International UK and Ireland

Simone Roche, director of Women 1st, said: “The calibre of our winners and the new inductees into the Top 100 Club suggests that the future success of the industry is in safe hands.

“Women 1st is proud to recognise the accomplishments that the Shine Awards showcase and we hope they will encourage and motivate both women and men to pursue their career aspirations, within our industry, with tenacity and enthusiasm.

“The quality of the nominations for the Women 1st Shine Awards improves year on year, setting the benchmark even higher. 2013 was no exception giving our judging panel the unenviable task of choosing a winner from a number of exceptional nominations in each category.”

Sarah took on the newly created role of marketing manager at Be At One in January 2012. With Be At One experiencing its largest growth spurt to date – opening six new cocktail bars in an 18-month period – Sarah created and implemented a new marketing strategy for the business while studying for an MA in marketing alongside her full-time job.

During that time she also developed and launched a new website for Be At One, grew the brand’s Facebook fanbase to over 15,000 users and launched the successful viral “Adopt a Bartender” campaign, as well as scooping two industry awards for a smartphone app that she was responsible for developing.

Described by her peers as passionate, innovative and enthusiastic, Sarah was praised for increasingly pushing herself outside her comfort zone. In March, she was keynote speaker at the Peach Marketing Seminar and is now a regular presenter in front of Be At One’s board of directors – a big step up for someone who joined the business as a bartender just seven years ago.

At one point, Sarah was the only woman in the entire Be At One business, but she has not let this hold her back. She counts many of her male managers as mentors and actively attends networking events for women outside of work. Sarah is also passionate about developing female talent and is now passing her knowledge and experience on by mentoring a member of the sales and bookings team who would like to move into marketing.

Sarah is pictured with Lynne Franks from category sponsor B.Hive and ex-rugby union star Matt Dawson, who hosted the awards.

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