Women 1st's Top 100 Women in Hospitality and Leisure

20 April 2011 by
Women 1st's Top 100 Women in Hospitality and Leisure

Continuing our dedicated Women's Month, Kerstin Kühn takes a look at the Women 1st list of the Top 100 Women in Hospitality, Travel and Tourism, compiled by Sector Skills Council People 1st


Lisa Allen head chef, Northcote, Langho, Lancashire
A former Acorn winner, Lisa Allen was the UK's youngest female chef to head up a Michelin-starred kitchen at just 23. She has since grown into one of the industry's leading ladies and last year was one of the finalists in the BBC's Great British Menu.

Tessa Bramley chef-patron, the Old Vicarage, Sheffield, Yorkshire

Jemima Bird marketing director, Tragus Holdings

Helene Darrozze
Helene Darrozze
Helene Darroze executive chef, the Connaught, London, and chef-patron Helene Darroze, Paris
Hélène Darroze runs two Michelin-starred restaurants in London and Paris, dividing her time between the two cities, spending alternate weeks at each. She is currently the only female chef-patron in the UK to hold two Michelin stars.

Karen Forrester UK managing director, TGI Friday's

Stella West Harling owner, Ashburton Cookery School

Angela Hartnett chef-patron, Murano, London
Angela Hartnett is one of the most high-profile female chefs in the UK and the only woman to have won Caterer‘s prestigious Chef award. She rose to fame under the tutelage of former mentor Gordon Ramsay and first won a Michelin star in 2004. Last year she bought her current restaurant, Murano in London's Mayfair, from Gordon Ramsay Holdings.

Rachel Humphrey head chef, Le Gavroche

Juliette Joffe
Juliette Joffe
Juliette Joffe founder and director, Giraffe Restaurants
Juliette Joffe founded Giraffe Restaurants together with her husband, Russell, in 1998. Today the company runs nearly 40 branches and five franchises with the backing from 3i investment group, private shareholders, and Giraffe chairman Luke Johnson. Last year, the couple launched a new restaurant concept called Guerilla Burgers.

Nigella Lawson TV cook and author

Saipin Lee regional manager UK & Europe, S&P Restaurants

Prue Leith CBE broadcaster and author
Industry veteran Prue Leith has pioneered British culinary standards over four decades, having set up the Leith's School of Food and Wine in 1974. Her appearance on the BBC's Great British Menu and her role as chair of the School Food Trust for four years have cemented her influence on British hospitality.

Jill McDonald chief executive and president, McDonald's and president, northern division, McDonald's Europe
Jill McDonald joined McDonald's in 2006 after 16 years with British Airways as chief marketing officer UK & northern division and was promoted to chief executive of the UK business in 2010. She has been instrumental in McDonald's being named the presenting partner for volunteering at the London Olympic Games, during which the company will help to recruit and train 70,000 volunteers.

Namita and Camellia Panjabi owners, Masala World
Namita Panjabi and her sister Camellia are the masterminds behind the award-winning Masala World restaurant group that specialises in authentic regional Indian cuisine. The group owns three upmarket restaurants in London - Chutney Mary, Veeraswamy and the Michelin-starred Amaya - as well as the midmarket Masala Zone brand.

Ruth Rogers co-founder, the River Cafe, London

Delia Smith TV cook and restaurateur

Clare Smyth
Clare Smyth
Clare Smyth head chef, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, London
Born in Northern Ireland, Clare Smyth moved to England to undertake a two-year chefs' apprenticeship aged just 16. She joined Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London in 2002, rising to head chef in 2007 and is currently the UK's only female chef to oversee a three-Michelin-starred kitchen.

Jill Stein director, the Seafood Restaurant, Padstow, Cornwall

Emma Woods marketing director, PizzaExpress


Wendy Bartlett
Wendy Bartlett
Wendy Bartlett managing director, Bartlett Mitchell
As chief executive of independent caterer Bartlett Mitchell, Wendy Bartlett oversees a business providing catering services including staff restaurants, executive dining services and hospitality services, plus café and delicatessen, conference, school and college catering services, as well as vending. Bartlett Mitchell has 480 staff and an annual turnover of £17.5m. She has won numerous awards, including Shine Business Woman of the Year in 2010.

Natalie Bickford HR director, Sodexo UK & Ireland

Jane Bristow director of corporate services and education, Sodexo UK and Ireland

Val Carter corporate responsibility director, Aramark Education

Alison Frith owner and managing director, Artizian Catering

Caroline Fry managing director, CH&Co

Lucy Gemmell creative director and founder, Rhubarb

Judy Hargadon chief executive, School Food Trust
Judy Hargadon joined the School Food Trust in 2006 after a 30-year career in healthcare management, with a special focus on innovation and improvement. She is chief executive of the national charity and she acts as a specialist adviser to Government on school meals, children's food and family cooking skills.

Michelle Hanson commercial director, Sodexo UK & Ireland

Deborah Harvey chairman, Pabulum

Robyn Jones
Robyn Jones
Robyn Jones OBE chief executive, CH&Co
Robyn Jones is one of the most successful women in catering and was this year awarded an OBE in the New Year honours list for her services to the hospitality industry. She co-founded CH&Co with her husband, Tim, in 1991 and the business currently boasts an annual turnover of around £75m and employs almost 2,000 people across its five divisions.

Kate Martin and Sue Parfett joint managing partners, The Brookwood Partnership
The Brookwood Partnership was founded in 1996 and specialises in the independent education sector. In 2008 Martin was presented with the Food Service Caterer award at the Cateys. The company has also achieved a listing in the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work for in both 2008 and 2010.

Sandra Russell chair, Local Authority Caterers Association
LACA is the leading professional body representing 750 catering managers in local authorities, private contractors and individual schools who are providers of school meals services. Russell is also head of catering at Warwickshire County Caterers.

Alison Tyler managing director, CH&Co

Lou Willcock founder and director, IndiCater
Lou Willcock founded Customised Contract Catering in 1992, with Mike Day. The company was then sold to Granada in 1998. In 2003, the duo founded IndiCater, a leading back-office management software provider for the industry. She is also chair of the Bacchus Alumni Association at Oxford Brookes University and has been instrumental in launching and driving the mentoring programme for fourth-year undergraduates.


Amanda Brady head of UK operations, Whitbread

Zareena Brown UK HR director, Hilton Worldwide

Alison Cryer managing director, Representation Plus

Anna Marie Dowling
Anna Marie Dowling
Anna-Marie Dowling general manager, Guoman Hotels - the Royal Horseguards
Anna-Marie Dowling took over as general manager of London's five-star, 281-bedroom the Royal Horseguards - Guoman Hotels' flagship property and the current AA Hotel of the Year - at the end of last year. She started out as a chambermaid, working her way up to her first general manager position at the Brewery in 1998.

Sara Edwards director of HR worldwide, Orient-Express Services

Laura Frith vice-president HR, InterContinental Hotel Group

Janice Gault chief executive, Northern Ireland Hotels Federation

Julia Hands chair and chief executive, Hand Picked Hotels

Liz McGivern HR director, Red Carnation Hotels

Avril Owton
Avril Owton
Avril Owton owner, the Cloud hotel
A former professional dancer with the Tiller Girls, Avril Owton took over the running of the Cloud hotel when her husband died suddenly at the age of 45, leaving her with an ailing family hotel, four children and no insurance. With no business experience she refurbished the hotel, began to make a significant profit and had soon increased her business turnover by 800%. She was awarded the Shine Woman of the Year Award in 2006 and in 2007 was made an honorary member of the Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World.

Alex Polizzi
Alex Polizzi
Alex Polizzi hotelier and TV presenter
Alex Polizzi comes from a long line of hoteliers: her grandfather was Lord Forte, her mother is hotelier and designer Olga Polizzi and her uncle is Sir Rocco Forte. She manages the Hotel Endsleigh in Milton Abbot, near Tavistock, Devon, which is owned by Olga, and is the presenter of The Hotel Inspector on Five, taking over from Ruth Watson.

Olga Polizzi designer and hotelier

Liz Smith-Mills UK hotel consultant, Diversey Inc

Louise Smalley group HR director, Whitbread

Vivien Sirotkin director of hotel operations, Q Hotels
Vivien Sirotkin became the first female general manager of a five-star hotel in Europe when she managed Gleneagles Hotel from 1988 to 2001. She became vice-president of Guinness Enterprises US, part of the development team for more Gleneagles hotels in the USA and Far East, and oversaw the management of contract properties. She is the only female board director at Q Hotels and has been an integral part in the development and success of the brand in the UK.

Angela Vickers managing director, Apex Hotels
Over the past five years, Angela Vickers has steered Apex Hotels into an organisation that now operates seven properties, employs 670 people and makes £12.5m in annual profit. The company was awarded the AA Small Hotel Group of the Year accolade in 2010.

Lynn Websternational chair, British Institute of Cleaning Science

firmdale hotels, cateys 09
firmdale hotels, cateys 09
Carrie Wicks director of operations, Firmdale
A winner of the Catey Manager of the Year award, Carrie Wicks has overseen the transition of a four-star boutique hotel company to a world-class, multi award-winning, luxury hotel company while at the same time running the Soho Hotel in London. She has championed the cause of women managers, with five of seven general managers in the company now being female.

Zareena Brown UK HR director, Hilton Worldwide


Lynne D'Arcy managing director, Trust Inns

Su Cacioppo personnel and legal director, JD Wetherspoon

Jillian MacLean
Jillian MacLean
Jillian MacLean managing director, Drake & Morgan
With more than 25 years' experience in the bar and restaurant industry, Jillian MacLean launched Drake & Morgan just over than two years ago and already operates four bars, employs 175 employees, has sales of £3.4m and last year turned profitable. She has won a host of awards including last year's Pub and Bar Catey and the 2011 Shine award for Outstanding Entrepreneur.

Liz Phillips director of human resources and organisational development, Mitchells and Butlers

Brigid Simmonds chief executive, British Beer, Pubs and Bars Association (BBPA)
The BBPA is the drinks and hospitality industry's largest and most influential trade association, representing 98% of UK brewing (by volume) and the ownership of over half of the nation's 54,000 pubs. Having previously worked as chief executive for Business in Sport and Leisure for 17 years, Simmonds has a track record of influencing policy and partnership working within the industry.


Penelope Cobham chair, VisitEngland

Sandie Dawe MBE chief executive, VisitBritain

Sharon Glancey director, People 1st

Ufi Ibrahim chief executive, British Hospitality Association

Penny Moore chief executive, Hospitality Action

Anne Pierce MBE chief executive, Springboard
A Catey Special award winner, Anne Pierce has had a hand in raising awareness of career opportunities in hospitality, addressing training issues, setting up a vocational support programme at schools and colleges, and launching Futurechef, the highly regarded competition for school students.

Julia Sibley chief executive, Savoy Educational Trust

Sara Jayne Stanes OBE director, Academy of Culinary Arts

Jane Sunley chief executive, Learnpurple
Jane Sunley founded Learnpurple, the organisation which helps employers in the hospitality industry to engage, develop and retain its staff, in 2001 and its sister company, Talent Toolbox, in 2005. She invented the online talent management system which launched in 2005 and is now utilised in 22 countries worldwide.

Debbie Taylor chairman, BHA Scotland
A former Catey Manager of the Year winner, Debbie Taylor was the first female general manager at the five-star Balmoral hotel in Edinburgh, as well as managing director of the Old Course Hotel at St Andrews. In addition to being chairman of BHA Scotland, she is one of only nine women in the world to hold the title Master Innholder.

Patricia Yates director of strategy and communications, VisitBritain


Jane Ashton group head of sustainable development, TUI Travel Plc

Lorraine Barnes-Burton chief executive, British Travel Awards

Rita Beckwith managing director, City Cruises

Kathryn Beadle managing director, Hurtigruten

Gill Benwell director, Bourne Leisure (Butlins)

Chris Browne managing director, Thomson Airways and Board Member, TUI Travel

Karen Browne chief executive, William Murray

Tea Colaianni group HR director, Merlin Entertainments

Debbee Dale managing director, Debbee Dale Development

Angela Day chief executive, Affordable Car Hire

Francesca Ecsery global sales director, Cheapflights Media

Anne Elliott managing director, Elliott Marketing and PR

Laura Frith vice-president HR, InterContinental Hotel Group

Debbie Hindle managing director, BGB

Sue Hurdle chief executive, The Travel Foundation

Lucy Huxley group editor, TW Group

Sue Kavanagh regional HR manager europe, Qatar Airways

Barbara Kolosinska sales director, C&M Travel Recruitment

Carol Marlowmanaging director, P&O Cruises

Ros Pritchard director general, British Holiday and Home Parks Association

Doreen McKenzie owner, Knock Travel

Flo Powell director, ACE

Karen Ramirez chair, Association of Women Travel Executives

Mary Rance chief executive, UKinbound

Paula Rogers managing director, Admiral Group

Tracey Rogers managing director,Unilever Food Solutions UK

Jo Rzymowska associate vice-president and general manager, Royal Caribbean International, Azmara and Celebrity Brands

Victoria Sanders managing director, Teletext Holidays

Julie Southern chief commercial officer,Virgin Atlantic Airways

Clare Tobin managing director, specialist holiday and board member, TUI Travel Plc

Teresa Walsh managing director, Club 18-30

Amanda Wills managing director, Virgin Holiday

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