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Acorn winners 2017: Sarah Bowman

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Written by:
Acorn winners 2017: Sarah Bowman

Conference and events manager, Wivenhoe House, Colchester, Essex

Nominated by Oliver Brown, general manager, Wivenhoe House

Proudest moment “Our Christmas season at Wivenhoe House in 2016 when we almost doubled the number of party covers from the previous year and had fantastic feedback from guests, with many rebooking for this year.”

Greatest inspiration “My line manager Melissa Dickinson has been a huge support, teaching me the importance of building customer relationships and a strong and successful team.”

Ambition “I love dogs, so one day I want to organise an outdoor event involving dogs, such as the ‘all about dogs’ show.”

It’s only five years since Sarah Bowman completed her degree in business and tourism at the University of Hertfordshire, but she’s achieved more than most since then.

Her first position was reservations co-ordinator at the Ramada Encore in Ipswich. A brief interlude working as a London market executive with LateRooms was followed by another stint at Ramada Encore as revenue manager, but her heart was in conferences and events, so in 2014 she accepted her current role at Wivenhoe House hotel, home of the Edge Hotel School.

Since joining, Bowman has transformed the business, increasing the number of weddings in two years from 33 to 55. Equally impressive, her popular Christmas party programme boosted the number of covers from 693 in 2014 to 1,580 in 2016.

Needless to say, she has increased the department’s revenue, too. In 2014/15 it turned over £542,000, but in 2015/16 that figure rose to £682,000 against a budget of £613,000.

So far, Bowman has trained 100 Edge Hotel School students and has completed the Train the Trainer programme. In 2014, she won the Institute of Hospitality Aspiring Manager Award but, not being one to rest on her laurels, she is now studying management essentials through the University of Essex’s learning and development programme.

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