Position: Front office academy manager, Thistle Hyde Park Hotel, London
Career to date
James began her career at Thistle Hotels in 1996 when, aged 18, she took a job as a trainee receptionist at the Thistle Euston in London, rising to reception manager within two years. Two years ago, following stints as front-office manager at the company's hotels at Kensington Gardens, City Barbican and Royal Horseguards, she decided she was ripe for a new challenge and, after eight years in operations, moved into corporate training and took the position she holds today.
Why is she a winner?
Since moving from her native Wales to London 10 years ago to kick-start her career in hospitality, James has consistently exceeded expectations. Despite the inherent challenges involved in moving from a team-based role where she managed 25 staff to an individual role, she has taken to her latest challenge like a duck to water and has helped to take the company's training facility, the Academy, to the next level. She made it an integral part of the overall business by making attendance compulsory for new recruits and expanding its remit to provide development opportunities as well as new starters training.
Under James's guidance, all new starters now attend the Academy for two weeks before taking up front-office positions. She has also designed and delivered management training programmes that have led to the internal promotion of more than 50 staff members and launched a development programme for front-office staff to ensure they reach their potential and to aid with succession planning. More recently she has set up an online training function using virtual classrooms.
Not content with training, James has generated more than £1m of additional revenue by promoting an upgrade incentive. She has also centralised front-office recruitment for the London hotels, using initiatives such as open days and a new micro-site for the Academy to attract potential candidates.