Hospitality management students Oliver Constant, from Bournemouth University, and Vita Juneviciute, from Oxford Brookes University, have been crowned Young Guns 2015.
The two aspiring industry stars saw off stiff competition from six other finalists to take the coveted title, awarded to them by CHME, the Council for Hospitality Management Education.
The final, which took place yesterday, involved a challenging networking lunch and conversation with the judges, including Lexington Catering chairman Tim West, who hosted the competition, and Red Carnation hotels managing director Jonathan Raggett. The lunch followed previously judged paper and video entries to establish the shortlist of finalists.
The other judges were Peter Ducker, chief executive of the Institute of Hospitality, Alison Tyler, chief executive for the commercial division at CH&Co, Miles Pooley, former general manager of London Marriott hotel Park Lane, Liz Cave, director at boutique HR and business consultancy Your Invisible Partner, Jane Sunley, chief executive officer and founder of Purple Cubed, and Amanda Afiya, editor at The Caterer.
Constant, who spent a year in industry working at the Riverside, Anantara, Bangkok in Thailand, and the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, is hoping that his work experience has put him in good stead to enjoy a career in the luxury five-star hotels sector on a global scale. Other placements in his career include three months at Chewton Glen in the New Forest.
Meanwhile, Lithuanian student Juneviciute, who is currently president of the Bacchus Society at Oxford Brookes, travelled to Queenstown in New Zealand for her year sandwich year. Juneviciute worked in the front office of Accor's Hotel St Moritz for 10 months. Her professionalism and personal demeanor was described by the hotel's general manager, Lynne McVicar, as "exemplary".
Their prize pot includes assistance in gaining employment with a high-profile hospitality business, one year's membership for the Institute of Hospitality, and invitations to this year's Catey Awards, which take place on 7 July, at London's Grosvenor House Hotel, a JW Marriott Hotel.
Tim West said: "We are delighted to host this competition, meeting the best of the hospitality undergraduates, and judges from all sectors all combined with showcasing the food service management sector."
YOUNG GUNS FINALISTS
- Norman Bechler, International University of Applied Sciences Bad Honnef
- Oliver Constant (winner), Bournemouth University
- Dragos Dorobat, Oxford Brookes University
- Sophie Huddlestone, Oxford Brookes University
- Vita Juneviciute (winner), Oxford Brookes University
- Armand Musat, Sheffield Hallam University
- Kasia Serafin, Oxford Brookes University
- Harry Watts, Bournemouth University