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This month’s Leading Learners

This month we catch up with four of our prize winners from 2020.




Rachel and Gillian have both been studying on the HOSPA courses in Revenue Management and achieved the highest overall grades for Level 1 Revenue Management and Level 2 Revenue Management respectively.


Simon and Sergei have both been studying on the HOSPA courses in Financial Management and achieved the highest overall grades for Level 2 Financial Management and Level 3 Financial Management respectively. All four learners completed their studies in August 2020 and were presented with their awards at our Virtual Awards Ceremony in January 2021.


Rachel Ironside is currently a Reservations Manager at Raithwaite Sandsend, a Yorkshire Coastal Retreat. Rachel also completed Level Two of the Revenue Management course in February 2021 and achieved a ‘Distinction’ and is currently studying Level Three.


Rachel explains: “My first part-time role was as a Waitress in a local restaurant and I enjoyed working within hospitality at the time, but I had confirmed a place at the University of Liverpool studying English as I originally wanted to become a teacher. During the summer break at University, I returned home and undertook work experience at Raithwaite in Weddings and Events. Following the completion of my BA (Hons) degree in English, I was interested in pursuing a role in Wedding and Events however there wasn’t a vacancy at the time, so I applied for a role within Raithwaite as a Full-Time Receptionist. After a couple of months, a role became available as a Reservations Agent and Events Assistant and I transferred to the Sales and Marketing department.


I enjoyed my role as a Reservations Agent as this allowed me to speak to guests and understand what aspects of their stay were particularly important to them. I was promoted to Reservations Supervisor initially and started to use my experience of speaking to guests to create packages and make decisions. I was then promoted to Reservations Manager in March 2020 and continue to look at new ways within the hotel to maximise Revenue, particularly with the challenging conditions of COVID-19!


The Introduction to Revenue Management course allowed me to consider the different aspects of Revenue Management and how these could be applied to my role at Raithwaite. I previously understood the elements of Revenue Management however the course has allowed me to develop these further and introduce new ways of working to maximise revenue. The consideration of the total revenue as opposed to just the room revenue has been particularly interesting.


After completing the course, I was given the opportunity to put the skills learnt into practice. In addition to the Reservations Manager’s tasks, I have now been able to incorporate Revenue Reporting into my role.


In the future, I hope to develop my career within hospitality and would like to use the knowledge of the course to pursue a career as a Revenue Manager.”


Gillian Peaston is currently the General Manager at Charney Manor, a 13th Century Conference and Retreat Centre owned by the Society of Friends (Quakers).


Gillian has undertaken several studies before studying with HOSPA including a Diploma in Events Management, NCFE Level 3: Events Management Award and Level 4: Event Management and Wedding Planning, HR Management, Conflict Resolution, Employment Law & Practise.


Gillian explains: “Having emigrated from South Africa 16 years ago, I worked in various commercial roles in sales and marketing. I would also create, organise, and manage various immersive themed events, which I became extremely passionate about. This led me into exploring roles within the hospitality and events industry.


When the role of Assistant Manager became available, it was a great chance to join a small team running the conference and retreat business at the beautiful 13th century manor. Eight years ago, I took the role of General Manager and responsibility of the business from a revenue point of view as well as the day-to-day management of the property and the fantastic group of staff.


Dynamic Revenue management is vital as we plan the expansion of the services we offer at Charney Manor, beyond the current conference and retreat business. The revenue management course enabled me to ensure the financial planning, from business as usual to planned expansion forecasting, to the other key stakeholders and trustees.


I was delighted to receive verbal recognition of my achievement at our quarterly committee meeting.


My aspiration for the future is to progress into wedding planning and immersive themed events.”


Simon Peter Grech is currently a Group Financial Controller at Mediterranean Yacht Sales Ltd and Domus Zamittello Boutique Hotel. Simon continued with his HOSPA studies, completing Level Three in February 2021 and obtained a ‘Distinction’.


Simon explains: “My first experience in hospitality started at a young age working at the front desk progressing to back office in administration and finance. Later, I was given other responsibilities including the procurement of consumables, guest supplies, food and beverage, together with F&B control and costings. My career progressed to an Accounts Manager when I moved to Incoming Travel Agency handling both tour operating business and MICE. During this period, in the little time available I ventured into business by starting my own company supplying 5 and 4-star hotels and restaurants with equipment, furnishings and accessories.


After a lapse of 15 years away from hospitality and tourism, working for companies such as Panasonic and Samsung as National Area Manager, it felt like returning back home when I joined a 4 star 165 room hotel as an Assistant Financial Controller. Today, I am working as a Group Financial Controller, in the yachting and boating business, property management and one of Malta’s finest and unique boutique hotel set in an old palazzo in the capital city, Valletta.


This course has enhanced my skills related directly to the hospitality industry, and has helped me become more proficient and confident in these difficult times to help weather and sail the storm.


I have changed employment during my studies and the fact that I was undergoing the HOSPA Financial Management course helped me position myself in the forefront of the candidate selection process.”


Sergei Aruketty Raju is currently looking for new opportunities within the hospitality industry and goes on to explain:


“Before studying with HOSPA I achieved a BBA (Hons) International Hospitality Management. I first joined the hospitality industry as a Butler. After working for a year with the Jumeirah group, I joined a travel company as a consultant. However, due to the on-going COVID pandemic my employment came to an end prematurely.


The course has really helped me to improve my analytical skills and I was able to look at matters from more of a financial point of view. The costing part of the course helped me to assist a friend when he opened a new restaurant. The knowledge I had acquired enabled me to provide valuable insight.


After completing an MBA, I am planning to enter the financial analytical field where I can use my knowledge extensively. My aspiration for the future is to become a CFO (Chief Financial Officer) of a reputable company.”


Image: Clockwise from top left: Sergei, Gillian, Simon, Rachel


To join the next intake for the HOSPA programmes in Financial Management and Revenue Management visit https://www.hospa.org/finance-revenue-programmes


For more information about the HOSPA Awards Ceremony visit: https://www.hospa.org/learner-profiles


For more information about membership visit: https://www.hospa.org/hospa-membership


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