Acorns 2021: Jenni Clarke, 29

28 July 2021
Acorns 2021: Jenni Clarke, 29

People and development manager, Bankside and St Ermin's hotel, London

Nominator Douglas McHugh, general manager, St Ermin's hotel, the Autograph Collection

What stands out most about Jenni Clarke is that thanks to her broad operational experience she can tackle issues right across the business.

At 17, she started as a room attendant in a small country hotel and was soon managing housekeeping. Her commitment to self-development led to her being named HTP Apprentice of the Year and joining the opening team of Radisson Edwardian Guildford as assistant front office manager.

To flex her commercial acumen, she became a sales and events executive with Hand Picked Hotels. Her success in building strong customer relationships saw her promoted to regional sales manager, where she increased corporate and conference revenue by 10% year-on-year.

But her heart lay with HR, so in 2018 she joined as a people and development officer in the preopening team of London's Bankside hotel. In 2020 she was asked to support both Bankside and its sister Autograph Collection hotel, St Ermin's in Westminster, with their post-pandemic reopening plans, earning another promotion to her current role.

She is a mental health first-aider and also qualified as an emotional quotient therapist during the pandemic. Making mental health awareness a priority, she organised regular online Tea Times with the teams, just for a chat, to watch a film or to share learning advice. She also designed the weekly #WellbeingWednesday advice newsletter.

What is the most positive people change you see for your sector post-restrictions?

"Everyone in the industry has recognised that we don't just work with positions or titles: we work with people. Hospitality businesses are facing their responsibility to put people's mental health at the forefront of workforce culture and to take action to ensure they offer great places to work."

Photography: Hospitality Media/Adrian Franklin

Back to the 2021 Acorn Award winners >>

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