THE WINNER: Julia Sibley, chief executive of the Savoy Educational Trust
Sponsored by: The Institute of Hospitality
Although her name may not be the most familiar in the industry, the chief executive of the Savoy Education Trust, Julia Sibley, has concentrated on using her powers to influence and encourage organisations and individuals throughout the hospitality industry to train more.
The trust is run as an independent chartable body to advance and develop education, training and qualifications within the UK hospitality industry. Although maintaining a low profile over the past 40 years, it has supported countless individuals, educational bodies, trade associations and organisations as well as helping to fund competitions to the tune of around £1m a year.
The trust was founded by four Savoy directors in 1961, and on the sale of the Savoy Group in 1998 the shares in the trust were sold, releasing £35m, and the money was invested with the intention of spending around 3% of the capital annually on grants to the industry.
In 2007 and 2008 the trust issued £634,000 of grants. Recipients included the Academy of Culinary Arts' Chefs Adopt a School programme, the Fifteen Foundation and new equipment and books for the catering department at Alsop High School in Walton, Liverpool. Funds were also found to help train the homeless in culinary skills at Crisis's Skylight Newcastle Café and to support the Prince's Trust's Get Into Cooking programme.
The trust was nominated by a plethora of leading industry players who acknowledge that it became a major contributor to the industry when Sibley was recruited in 1998.
One nominator said of Sibley: "She is wholly dedicated to the industry and is passionate about helping people achieve their potential. She works incredibly hard and is unremitting in her diligent assessment of the projects that are submitted to the trust for support. The industry is fortunate to have someone of her calibre, dedication, professionalism and intellectual rigour."
Other judges agreed. David Foskett, head of school at Thames Valley University, said: "As chief executive she has helped so many people, changed their lives and created opportunities where none before have existed. She always provides hope in times of difficulty."
Cyrus Todiwala, chef-patron of Café Spice Namasté, added that although Sibley's was not a well-known name in hospitality circles, she was at the helm of the most influential trust dedicated to education in our industry. "She has made full use of her abilities and powers to influence those on the committee of trustees to help fund some critically and crucially important training programmes that have helped our youth immensely."
Judge Sandra Gorman, consultant for BSG Consort, complimented Sibley on her personal sincerity and her dedication, adding that: "Her actions and her support for many innovative training and educational programmes has affected many in the industry over the years."