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Acorn winners 2016: Peter Cox, 25

01 July 2016
Acorn winners 2016: Peter Cox, 25

Operations manager, Premier Inn Peterborough A1(M), Whitbread

Nominated by Mark Gabb, cluster general manager, Premier Inn, Whitbread

Proudest moment "Opening Great Yarmouth Premier Inn, because I had always dreamed of opening my own hotel."

Greatest inspiration

Ambition "To be a general manager, or own my own hotel. I always work to achieve more and to impact on others' lives for the better. It would be fantastic if I could keep working my way up to a position where I can have more influence and create greater opportunities for people."

As operations manager at Premier Inn, Peter Cox has come a long way since his first job as a kitchen porter - and he is still only 25.

While climbing the career ladder, he worked as an assistant event's operations manager at QHotels' the Park Royal. He then joined Premier Inn's operations graduate programme and within six months was managing its 60-bed Norwich Showground hotel.

Cox's first role as operations manager saw him open the 80-bedroom Great Yarmouth Premier Inn. Here, he managed 24 staff and pushed profit up by 126% of the budget.

Through his recruitment policy, some 73% of staff were NEETs (not in education, employment or training). He also created links with the JobCentre, local homeless charity Anchorage Trust and other youth organisations such as Catch 22 and the disabled charity Remploy. The result is a community-led hotel consistently listed on TripAdvisor as one of the top five hotels in Norfolk.

Now at Premier Inn's Peterborough Norman Cross, Cox is again striving to attract young people into the industry through his work with Inspired Youth, which creates links between schools, colleges and employers. He has also been a guest speaker at MyHi, the latest and largest hospitality careers event in East Anglia.

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