Operations manager, Park Plaza London Park Royal
Nominator Alex Caetano, hotel manager, Park Plaza London Park Royal
Proudest moment “On 24 February 2017 at 5pm we took a team picture before starting a simulation weekend for this hotel. After months of training, my teams absolutely rocked it and it all came together.”
Greatest inspiration “All the people who have helped me on my journey share one quality: doing the right thing for their teams, regardless of the pressure that KPIs, dashboards, percentages, head offices or ratings may have placed on them.”
Why hospitality is a great career “It exposes you to interesting fields, such as leadership, finance and cultural management, regardless of which area of the business you are in. It also provides rapid growth opportunities and the chance to travel.”
Jill van Rest’s CV grabs your attention, not just because she has progressed from management trainee to operations manager in less than seven years, but because her achievements in that time are impressive.
She earned her first head of department role at just 23. As housekeeping manager at Aloft London Excel she oversaw a team of 30, boosted team engagement from 58% to 85% and achieved an 8% payroll decrease – all while maintaining impeccable cleanliness scores.
She became certified in Six Sigma Green Belt before accepting a six-month assignment at the Westin Abu Dhabi where she restructured the front office team when a recruitment freeze was complicating an already intense high season.
Back in London, she joined the pre-opening team of the 212-bedroom Park Plaza London Park Royal as rooms division manager. After a flawless opening, she was promoted to operations manager, adding the F&B and security teams to her responsibilities.
Van Rest then secured herself a place on the Master Innholders Aspiring Leaders diploma and delivered a series of bitesize training sessions to her team. At least a dozen of her team have subsequently won promotions.