A first look at The miaList 2014 finalists

The miaList 2014 is under lock and key until 7 April when it will be revealed before more than 200 industry people at Church House Conference Centre as the climax to the miaList Celebratory Lunch. However, as event sponsors, Conference News is able to introduce the first finalists. A selection of finalists will be profiled here each week in the build up to the event, and hopefully illustrate what makes these people stand out as the industry’s best.

We introduce here the final three candidates featured by CN in a series profiling the inspiring professionals shortlisted for the mia List 2014.

Samantha Smith, Sales Office Manager, Whittlebury Hall Hotel & Spa

Nominated by Michael Stott, Director of Sales & Marketing.

Samantha ensures the smooth operation of both the Conference & Events Team and our Reservations Team at Whittlebury Hall Hotel & Spa and loves meeting targets, whilst maintaining an excellent customer experience and good staff morale. After graduating in Events & Hospitality Management five years ago she has worked her way through the ranks from conference and events coordinator to her current position as Sales Office Manager, responsible for a team of 19. In her spare time. she’s either down on the farm (her family runs it) or travelling and
experiencing the unknown.

Sean Melville, Executive Chef/ Food & Beverage Manager, Park Plaza Riverbank London

Nominated by June Harvey, HR Manager

The opportunity to make people’s dreams and ideas come true and meeting so many different people, is what Sean says he loves about his job, which he describes as inspiring guests, through team members, to ensure they have a memorable event. Outside of work he is a part time volunteer paramedic for East Ambulance Service and owns a horse, which his son rides in show jumping events.

Stuart Bonser, Business Development Manager, Center Parcs Conference and Events, Sherwood Forest

Nominated by Laura Howard, Marketing Assistant.

“A very heart-warming surprise,” is how Stuart describes his nomination for the miaList 2014, which he feels ‘honoured and privileged’ for. His role at Center Parcs Conference and Events is diverse, encompassing organising many different types of events; turning client’s vision into reality. His career highlights includes winning the Nottinghamshire’s STARS Award for Best Ambassador for the industry and receiving a Bronze accreditation at the Eventia Awards.

Full profiles of all finalists for the miaList 2014 can be seen at http://www.mia-uk.org/nominees/

Here is our fourth batch:

Jonathan Morris, Commercial
Director, No11 Cavendish Square

Nominated by Nonna
Casabayo, Business Support Manager

Jonathon’s altruism could be described as almost limitless. As
well as being Commercial Director of the Kings Fund, a health charity, which
has seen him transform No.11 Cavendish Square from a charity with rooms, into a
respected venue, generating additional revenue for the charity, he also works
for two other charities in his spare time. He enjoys the freedom the charity
affords him to create a great product that customers feel comfortable and at
home in.

Julie Cassidy, Conference and Events Sales
Manager, Aztec Hotel and Spa

Nominated by Chris Hill, General Manager.

Meeting new and exciting people from all different walks of
life is what Julie loves about her job. Not surprisingly, building strong
relationships is how she sets out to maximise sales in the Conference &
Events sector of the business. She’s an avid cook who loves to prepare healthy
meals for her friends and family, and loves to run, she has two 10K runs planned
this year and the Great North Run in 2015.

Karolina Orecchini, Meetings and Events Sales
Executive, Jurys Inn Brighton

Nominated by Damien Doyle, General Manager.

Karolina maximises guests’ satisfaction and hotel
profitability by selling and managing the meeting space of nine function rooms.
She loves the variety, challenges and the everyday opportunities for exceeding
guests’ expectations. On being nominated for the miaList 2014, she feels ‘It is
a great distinction when your everyday efforts to go that extra mile are
noticed and appreciated’.

Katie McPhee, Senior City Marketing Manager, Furniture
Makers Hall

Nominated by Tatiana Soukiassian, PR Manager.

Advising, educating, supporting and promoting event
organisers of all kinds across the UK and Europe is how Katie describes her
role. Her career highlight is seeing the growth of Eventbrite in the UK. She
was the first person working for the company in the UK in 2011, now it’s seeing
over 100k UK events annually hosted on its website.

Here is our third batch:

Gemma Royle, Group Meetings Events and Sales Support Manager, Jury’s Inn Group

Nominated by Marc Webster, Head of Sales.

Gemma played a key role in the launch of Jury’s Meetings in 2012, which achieved its objectives by the end of 2013. She has a passion for the industry and loves her job, which is to support Jury’s Inn’s Meetings & Events Coordinators at 28 locations. She considers them a dedicated team and especially enjoys helping them to develop their role and product.

Glenn Clark, Food & Beverage Manager, Sheffield City Hall

Nominated by Richard Hunter, General Manager.

Glenn takes a hands on approach to everything food and beverage related, including all sales, procurement and delivery, he loves the variety and range of events he manages and the interaction with people they produce. Delighted to be nominated for the miaList 2014, he considers it a career highlight and believes his success is an uplifting reflection of his entire team’s achievements.

Helen Gooch, Conference & Events Sales Manager, De Vere Dunston Hall Hotel

Nominated by Sophie Simpson, Director of Sales.

This is a woman that loves her job; she loves that for her, no day or event is ever the same, that she is constantly kept busy; and she loves her team, describing them as extremely dedicated and making her very proud. Working together, their aim is to ensure the events they create exceed clients’ expectations at every opportunity.

Helen McGlynn, Conference & Events Coordinator, Old Swan Hotel Harrogate

Nominated by Naomi Phillips, Group Sales Director, Classic Lodges Hotels.

Helping clients realise their vision is a key motivator for Helen. By building strong relationships, she gains an understanding of what clients need and uses this knowledge to deliver memorable events for them, from enquiry to delivery, adding her personal touch throughout. She considers exceeding targets at both hotel and group level as a career highlight, as well being nominated for rising star of Classic Lodges Hotels.

The second batch of finalists:

Debbie Hattley, Food and Beverage Manager,
Thistle Brands Hatch

Nominated by Simon
Barker, General Manager.

Debbie finds her job incredibly rewarding and loves the team she works
with every day. She lives and breathes her role at the Thistle Brands Hatch
hotel and notes her career highlight as the time it become the only Thistle
hotel to gain a Venue Verdict Gold Standard.    

Denise Nelson-Gale, Wedding and Events Coordinator, Midland Hotel

Nominated by Kate Shepherd, Events Sales Manager.

Helping people turn their dreams and ideas into events is what Denise
loves about her job. Perhaps after spending two years planning a five day
medical conference down to the finest detail she could have expected her
miaList nomination, but instead she is overwhelmed and appreciative to have
been nominated by her colleagues.

Franck Rosello, Head of Operations Design, etc.venues

Nominated by David Owen, Head of Marketing.

Ensuring etc.venues’ clients are provided with a memorable experience,
whether for design, the comfort, the location or the food is what Franck does
every day and he loves the variety of the tasks he performs. Innovating and
creating ideas are his passions and he describes his career highlight as
contributing to a successful event that ensures clients’ interest in etc.venues
grows from strength to strength.

Gary Dougan, Head Chef, Robinson College Cambridge.

Nominated by Nick Milne, Conference Manager.

Describing himself as ‘honest, impartial, hardworking and very
conscientious’, and what he loves most about his job as, “the adrenalin, the
versatility, food and the people.” Gary is clearly a man who wears his ambition
on his sleeve. However, his generosity and modesty shine through when he
describes his catering and conference manager as an inspiration and his miaList
nomination as an honour.

The first four finalists:

Chris Mills, Conference & Events Operations Manager, Crowne Plaza Manchester Airport IHG.

Nominated by Wayne Topley, Cluster General Manager.

Chris ensures the hotel’s corporate guests receive exceptional service and he considers his role has been performed well when they rebook their next seminar or meeting while he’s completing post event feedback with them. During his time at Crowne Plaza Manchester Airport, he has substantially grown the hotel’s meeting client base, putting Crowne Plaza meeting space firmly onto the corporate map. Additionally, he has increasing the hotel’s venue verdict score by 40 per cent.

Clare Hodgson, Conference & Events Manager, Southcoast Conferences at the University of Brighton.

Nominated by Elisabeth Barton-Grew, Conference Office Manager.

Since her promotion from Conference Coordinator to Conference and Events Manager at Southcoast Conference & Events, Clare’s remit involves event management services, managing a year-round conference centre and the sales and marketing of residential conferences and vacation accommodation lets. To cultivate success, she is regularly put on the spot to find creative solutions, a challenge she relishes; she loves the way her job enables her to ‘stretch her mind’.

Daniel Horgan, Assistant Food & Beverage Manager, Holiday Inn London Bloomsbury.

Nominated by Matthew Beard, General Manager.

Clearly a people person, Daniel loves the opportunity to engage with people from different backgrounds that his job gives him, and he has developed a strong team, able to exceed clients’ expectations. This is a man who is happy in his work, when asked how he feels about his nomination for the miaList 2014, he said, “It is a great honour to be recognised by the industry for doing a job I enjoy.”

Darren Benyon, Client Services Manager, ChooseYourEvent.com

Nominated by Simon Gray, Director.

Darren ensures ChooseYourEvent.com client services are maintained to a high standard. He aims to be the best at what he does every day and loves to turn challenges into opportunities to achieve 100 per cent satisfaction all round. Demonstrating a particularly high commitment to excellence, Darren set himself an achievement target and was nominated for the miaList after he exceeded it by 22 per cent.

Full profiles of all finalists for the miaList 2014 can be seen at http://www.mia-uk.org/nominees/.

miaList 2014 Celebratory Lunch

The miaList is an initiative by the meetings industry association (mia) to find the industry’s most enthusiastic, passionate and inspiring people. The Celebratory Lunch, where the List will be revealed on 7 April at Church House Conference Centre, is a full celebration of some of the industry’s most hardworking and creative people, during an afternoon of inspiration, networking and hospitality. Tickets for the miaList 2014 Celebratory Lunch are available direct from the mia: http://www.mia-uk.org/mialist-celebration-lunch/.

Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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