Joel Fagg has recently been crowned Acorn Scholar 2011, winning himself a scholarship worth more than £7,000. He talks to Amanda Afiya about the awards and why he'll be encouraging people to enter next year.
How does it feel to be the Acorn Scholar 2011?
It's a dream-come-true! It feels amazing to know that my talent and passion for hospitality has been recognised by so many industry leaders and it brings with it great opportunities. I am extremely excited about the forthcoming year and the chance to work alongside the 12 judges.
What did you have to do to win?
The Acorn Scholarship is a self-nominated award. The initial stage was a 1,000-word application covering your ultimate career goal, which for me is to be a managing director of a luxury four-star hotel group with international acclaim. You also have to talk about what made you choose your career, where you see yourself in five years' time and how you'll get there. The judges then shortlisted 10 candidates. Each finalist had to do a 15-minute presentation at the finals, covering the application, how you would benefit from the scholarship and what you would give back as the scholar.
This was your second attempt at the title - did this help?
Having been highly commended in 2010 , this allowed me to develop my own career in ways I would not have been able to, such as having Christian Armstrong, people and development director at Guoman & Thistle Hotels, as a mentor. Barceló also sponsored me to take some Learnpurple training courses.
What are you planning to do with your bursary?
Tell us about your role at BarcelÁ³ Walton Hall hotel?
As hotel operations manager I oversee the day-to-day running of the hotel and deputise for the hotel manager in his absence. I continue to drive quality through all the heads of departments and their teams to ensure the hotel performs to its full capacity.
How will you promote the Acorn Scholarship during your reign?
I want to work with schemes such as People First and Springboard, as well as colleges and universities. I also hope to network with the judges and my own contacts to ensure as many people, whether they work for a chain or an independent, are aware of the scholarship and what winning it can do for both the scholar's career and for their company.