Winners of miaList industry excellence awards announced

MiaList winners
The Meetings Industry Association (mia) has announced the winners of its prestigious 2016 miaList awards at a dedicated lunch at Park Plaza Victoria, London.
The mia received a huge number of nominations for the awards, which since 2011 have been celebrating those outstanding and passionate individuals from the meetings, hospitality and events industry who go above and beyond the call of duty.

Leigh Jagger chief executive officer of global event management agency Banks Sadler was awarded the Leadership title. Appointed CEO in 2007, Leigh has led the agency to huge success. She has grown her team from 40 to more than 280 employees across eight different offices and the agency recently took second place in Conference & Incentive Travels’ top 50 agencies.

Banks Sadler is also known for its company culture that encourages a collaboration between offices, which Leigh recognises is critical to driving business success. Staff development is also at the core of its culture. Under her leadership, in 2015 Banks Sadler was awarded Investors in People Gold Standard, as well as a ranking in the ‘UK Great Place to Work’, and cited as ‘One to Watch in 2016’ by The Times Top 100 survey.

Rising Star was presented to Jade Day, sales and events co-ordinator at Whittlebury Hall. The judges were impressed by her energy, commitment and drive to overachieve on targets. They felt she made a huge impact on the team taking them with her to achieve goals and was ultimately striving for world domination.

The Conference and Events title was presented to Stewart Elder, director of banquets and events at Fairmont St Andrews. The judges were interested in his unique background, which has seen him move from golf sales to director of group sales and then to his current position as director of banqueting and events. They felt he was highly motivated and dynamic and is quite rightly in Fairmont’s ‘Leadership Development’ programme.

Jenny Waller, meetings and events planning executive at Park Plaza Victoria secured the Highly commended for Conference and Events title thanks to her outstanding loyalty and passion about her venue. Her clients said she was a ‘a real stand out individual’ while the judges were impressed by her positive drive and initiative and her ability to find creative solutions.

Front of House was scooped by Helen Hickmore, head receptionist at Buckland Tout Saints – part of the Eden Hotel Collection. The former IT sales executive, who started in housekeeping when she joined the hotel seven years ago, is passionate and enthusiastic about her job, the hotel and the industry. She has great attention to detail and can often be found plumping cushions and has even been known to tack up a father-of-the bride’s suit, which was the wrong size.

The Sales category was awarded to Suzanne Draper, business development manager at Eden Hotel Collection. Extremely personable, Suzanne impressed the judges with her confident, enthusiastic and grounded approach which is coupled with a solid background in hotel sales in four star properties. They also liked her ability to take Eden forward as well as her interest in self-development.

Sarah Birch, business development manager at Newbury Racecourse, was recognised as Highly Commended Sales. In her first year she has been credited with increasing sales at the Berkshire-based course by 93%. Thanks to her positive drive and initiative, Sarah essentially runs the department and has created great relationships with the team.

Back of House was secured by the QEII Centre’s AV project manager Steven Mann. Judges were impressed by his professionalism and felt he was a great ambassador for Westminster’s QEII – consistently delivering to high standards. They felt he was a highly motivated, ambitious team player who was very focussed and eager to learn to extend his knowledge and embraces change. He also identifies areas for improvement in the department and is not afraid to suggest changes as he has a strong desire to progress and seek professional development opportunities rather than waiting to be selected.

Laura Lediard, HR advisor at The Belfry Hotel & Resort achieved Highly Commended Back of House. The panel were enthralled by her initiative and passion, which has seen her self-fund her own CIPD qualification. Competent and hard-working, Laura has a longer-term view of where she wants both herself and the venue to be.

The Marketing accolade was awarded to Laura Jefferies, marketing assistant at Twickenham Experience. Judges felt Laura was a self-starter who will go far. They were particularly impressed with her innovative and engaging strategy for the venue, despite a lack of access during the Rugby World Cup. Showing drive and passion, Laura also identified and delivered a number of previously outsourced projects – achieving greater results than were previously thought possible.

Abhjeet Dasalkar, head chef at The Arden Hotel – part of the Eden Hotel Collection – scooped the Food and Beverage Production title. The judges felt Abhjeet is a great chef who effortlessly combines both commercial skills with creativity and has a guest-centred approach. He cares and invests in his team to make sure that they are continuing learning and stretching what they do to push the boundaries.

After being short-listed alongside seven other venues, Destination Bristol was crowned Team of the Year, which was voted by their peers in an online poll. The four-member team works with around 70 plus venues and guides potential clients gently through their requirements to offer effective solutions from tiny meetings to major events, offering a knowledgeable and professional service. They also regularly host site visits, meet clients at events whether local or international and always go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that their visit to Bristol is a success, providing a first class service on behalf of a first class destination.

Jane Longhurst, chief executive of the mia, said: “The miaList is about recognising the incredible and inspiring talent within our industry and we were delighted with the huge number of entrants. The 2016 winners certainly showcase some of the sectors’ exceptional individuals who have stood out over the last 12 months for their dedication, innovation, leadership and commitment to the events industry.”

The miaList judging panel represented all sectors of the event industry – buyers, agents and venues – and included: Steve Knight – The Meetings Show (headline sponsor), Rob Flinter – Park Plaza Victoria, Lacy Curtis-Ward – The Lensbury, Gill Smillie – Conference Venues Countrywide, Carol Primett – Anglian Water and Helen Ashton – Langley House Trust.

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