Sponsored by Cartwheel Recruitment
Catharine Barras, BaxterStorey
Catharine Barras joined BaxterStorey in 2010 as assistant manager before quickly rising up the ranks. She was promoted to general manager in 2013, operations manager in 2014 and accounts director in 2015, overseeing the Royal Bank of Scotland contract spanning 50 locations, with a team of 400 and an annual turnover value of £21m.
This year, Barras was asked to head up BaxterStorey's Mainland Europe business, taking charge of multiple operations across four countries, with a clear objective to improve performance and grow business outside the UK. She is also responsible for the mobilisation and operation of AXA group, BaxterStorey's largest European contact win to date.
Among her significant achievements in 2015-2016, Barras has secured an additional £100m turnover for the business after an eight-month project to reshape national food services and was instrumental in extending the term of the Royal Bank of Scotland catering contract, which is the single-biggest contract extension ever awarded to BaxterStorey.
The work of the business in Europe presents a number of challenges, all of which Barras has tackled with gusto. She has mobilised the first AXA Belgium location, taken AXA from a cost-plus contract to a fixed-price contract, launched BaxterStorey's first private restaurant in Brussels, retained Plantronics group in Amsterdam after a six-month contract negotiation, and delivered a 10% saving to Cisco group.
Barras has also driven up quality and compliance standards and trained 160 team members in bespoke safety systems across three countries. Meanwhile, she has improved access to small suppliers for the Belgium team, to ensure BaxterStorey can meet its values with regard to local sourcing and provenance.
In addition to this, she has launched the first company-wide BaxterStorey awards programme and event, reaching 8,500 colleagues and offering the business a consistent platform for internal reward and recognition.
But Barras isn't just a high performer within the business; she is also well known in the wider industry. Outside her day job she is a role model for young leaders, dedicating her own time to charitable work and encouraging others to enter the industry and develop a career for life. After a long-standing relationship with Springboard, she joined the London Advisory board in 2015. In December 2015, she took on the role of chair, which sees her work with a team of industry leaders to support Springboard's objectives for London and the South. Meanwhile, Barras has been accepted onto the mentor programme for the House of St Barnabas charity, where she mentors a homeless person on the road to full- time employment.
On top of being named Regional Manager of the Year, she is listed as one of the top 100 most influential women in business, according to London publication City AM.
What the judges said
"This was an incredibly well-rounded entry showing real commitment and passion for the industry."
Matt Wood, Restaurant Associates
"I'm blown away by Catharine's achievements this year. An outstanding financial performance, coupled with remarkable client and customer satisfaction scores."
Chris Chidley, Eurest
- Alastair Armstrong Sodexo
- Catharine Barras BaxterStorey
- Nigel Scott Sodexo
- 2015 Matt Wood Restaurant Associates
- 2014 Michele Ribaudo BaxterStorey
- 2013 Chloe Smith Lexington Catering
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