We all know the hospitality industry has had a tough couple of years, but over the years some shining stars have been making a positive and continual impact on shaping the industry. From managing hotels, bars and everything in-between we are celebrating some of the industry’s most inspiring women leaders who have been paving the way for future generations.
Here we celebrate women who are known among their peers for the positive societal and industry changes they are making.
Lily Waite: Founder of Queer Brewing
The Queer Brewing project launched in 2019, with a mission to connect LGBT+ people to a world that’s dominated by heterosexual communities. Led by Lily Waite, the business successfully launched several products in the beer industry that focus on LGBT+ visibility. By collaborating with beer companies, Waite introduced the Her Fight Like Hell DIPA in honour of those who lost their lives to anti-trans crimes, with each Queer Brewing product raising money for various LGBT+ charities. A worthy cause and a positive step forward in bringing LGBT+ into branding and hospitality.
Anna Anderson: Founder of Kindred
Community is at the core of Kindred, a members’ club with a shared daytime workspace and a night-time event venue. Kindred was launched in 2020 at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. But Anna Anderson didn’t let that stop her. Her previous experiences as a social worker fueled her passion for Kindred as she saw the effects of loneliness on people living in a city. Passionate about people and humanity, Kindred focuses on building authentic human connections, whether that’s online or in person.
Joyce and Raissa De Haas: Founders of Double Dutch
Twin sisters Joyce and Raissa De Haas have been making serious waves in the industry now for a while, with an unrivalled passion for tonics they have been pushing the boundaries with flavour profiles and ensuring that drinking alcohol is kept fun. Double Dutch, founded in 2015, the company puts sustainability at the core of the business, offsetting over 21,000kg of CO2 and becoming Carbon Neutral just last week. Racking up multiple awards and dedicated to innovation the team also recently partnered with PepsiCo to build up the presence of the brand further in restaurants, bars, hotels and retail across Belgium and Luxembourg.
Camille Vidal, Founder of La Maison Wellness
Camille Vidal is all about mindfulness. Her mission is to introduce the world of hospitality to mindful drinking as they navigate through challenges like Dry January. Known globally as the drinks expert turned mindfulness, yoga and meditation teacher, Camille was named Forbes Women Leading the Drink Industry and Bar World 100 Industry most influential figures in 2019. Her Mindful Cocktails empower people to change their relationship with drinking by introducing tasty low and no alcohol cocktails. La Maison Wellness creates diverse cocktails for every single taste bud. It’s an excellent way to reduce alcohol consumption without sacrificing any flavours.
Erchen Chang, Co-Founder of BAO
Mastermind and creative founder behind the BAO craze, Erchen Chang tops our list as one of the most inspirational female cooks and founders of our time. Launching in 2013, BAO quickly became the word that was tripping off everyone’s lips, from restaurants to events and festivals Chang was on a mission to bring a taste of Taiwan to London. Equipped with bags of creativity Erchen operates 3 sites across London and a newly opened Café Bao in Kings Cross and a brand-new Bao Noodle Shop including a karaoke bar and Bao beer for those craving social fun post-covid.
Mitra Esmizadeh, Talent Director at 10ten Culinary
Well-known behind the scenes and loved by many celebrity chefs, Mitra Esmizadeh has hospitality running through her veins. From running Taste of London Festival as Event Director, to now managing chef talent from Michelin Star chef Tom Sellers to loved baker Juliet Sear, Mitra is the go-to for consultancy in the industry and running culinary projects. Passionate about championing women within hospitality Mitra connects talent, brands and rights holders to create cutting-edge content, sponsorship deals, projects and events.
Becky Wilkes, Senior Sales & Marketing Manager of the North for D&D London
Becky Wilkes is a well-known name in the Northern UK hospitality scene. Over the past few years, she’s been nominated for several awards, including ‘Best Newcomer’, ‘Best Personality’, and ‘Female Networker of the Year’. Although Becky focuses on her work for D&D London where she just got promoted to North to Head of Sales and Event Marketing, she’s also a board member of the Manchester Hospitality Network which connects various hospitality professionals. Becky is extremely proud of D&D London’s 20 Stories launch in Manchester, which is a beloved venue for locals and tourists alike.
Kellie Rixon, Chairman of the Institute of Hospitality
In 2019, Kellie Rixon took over The Institute of Hospitality, which is a professional body for hospitality managers. Kellie’s hospitality experience is diverse and includes working in front of house, running pubs, developing talent frameworks, and much more. Kellie also did extensive work for De Vere, a hospitality training school for young people. Through her time working at the school, the number of pupils drastically increased from just 12 to 13,000. It’s undeniable that Kellie’s passion for hospitality is an unstoppable force.
Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality
One of the most prominent voices in the UK hospitality industry is without a doubt Kate Nicholls, who received a much-deserved OBE award for all her efforts. Although Kate did extensive work to highlight the hospitality crisis during Covid-19, she should be acknowledged for her dedication to the industry throughout her career. In 2021, Kate was appointed as the industry’s disability ambassador and actively takes part in shaping the future of hospitality. She continues to be focused on providing disabled people with employment as well as accommodating customers with disabilities in the best way possible.
Nicole Pisani, Co-founder of Chefs in Schools
Nicole Pisani isn’t just the co-founder of Chefs in Schools, she’s also the Head Chef. All it took for her to get involved was a tweet in which Henry Dimbleby asked if anyone wanted to take over a Hackney school kitchen. Feeding children good and nutritious meals are the charity’s core challenge and Nicole’s hard work and passion paid off. Schools around the country have transformed the way they’re feeding children and Chefs in Schools positioned itself as a leading charity in the school catering sector.
Lorraine Copes, Founder of Be Inclusive Hospitality
Inclusivity has never been more important than it is now and Lorraine Copes wants to make sure that the hospitality industry doesn’t fall behind. Be Inclusive Hospitality is a not-for-profit organisation, founded in 2019. Lorraine’s main goal is to accelerate racial equality within the industry. Having 18 years in hospitality allowed Lorraine to build a community of more than 300 Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups and accelerate conversations surrounding diversity amongst staff employed in hotels, bars, restaurants, and clubs. More recently Lorraine has joined us on our Early Careers campaign, as well as partnering with Uber and Enterprise Nation on the £50,000 Black Business Fund Initiative.
“My journey has all been about the people I learned from. Modern mentorship is all about leaving the ego behind and rapport is everything: you can’t open up with someone who you don’t trust. Many people in the sector have been very supportive, and as a Black woman I had to find my group.” – Lorraine Copes, Founder of Be Inclusive Hospitality
Alicja Specjalna, Executive chef, MEATliquor
An established group like MEATliquor can’t afford to rest on its monkey fingers when competition is rife, and founder Scott Collins knows this, going by his astute move to bring talent like Alicja Specjalna on board. She is a chef with expert knowledge of the product and along with her partner, Sam Bryant, worked at Coal Rooms in Peckham before creating Whole Beast, a live-fire nose-to-tail concept that made many a star turn on the pop-up scene before being forced into hibernation by the pandemic. This opened a window to work at MEATliquor, where Alicia opened sites, led training programmes and took responsibility for innovation and consistency of products. She has overhauled the ageing and butchering process for the all-important patties and streamlined production systems to save hours of kitchen prep every week.
Naomi Heaton, Founder, The Other House
Having studied and worked in advertising, Naomi has always had a passion for London fine architecture. Thirty years ago, when she realised international investors needed representation to find a property in Prime Central London, she created London Central Porfolio. LCP provides exclusive access to buying opportunities along with high-end project management and creative design solutions, to suit all aspirations and budgets. Founded in 2019 by Founder & CEO Naomi Heaton, The Other House (part of The Portfolio Club) embraces a new approach to hospitality – prime locations with gorgeous interior design, for members to enjoy themselves as long as they are in town. Naomi recently announced her next Residents Club will open early 2024 near the piazza in Covent Garden, and aims to expand her brand globally to keep on “providing residents with a second home as they move from club to club around the world”.
“When your values or what you believe is at the heart of what you do, I think it shows. When you have a purpose, you’re on the right path to success.” – Naomi Heaton, Founder, The Other House
Monica Berg, Mixologist, Tayēr + Elementary
Monica Berg is proof that excellence also happens in bartending. Named several times best London bartender and entrepreneur, Monica is a talented mixologist known for her Muyu liqueurs and Tayēr + Elementary, a bar she recently opened in London with Alex Kratena. Creative mixologist known for her distinctive drinks and cocktails, she won both the prestigious “International Bartender of The Year” at Spirited Awards, Tales of The Cocktail, and “Bartender’s Bartender” by The Worlds 50 Best Bars. She also co-founded charity P(OUR) to provide the bar community with her extensive drinks knowledge and support the F&B industry in producing and sourcing ingredients locally. In 2020 Monica Berg and Alex Kratena launched Tayēr RTD, ready to drink bottled cocktails. And to tackle harassment and discrimination in the bar industry but at any workplace, Monica created BackOfHouse, a free online resource to help managers get anonymous feedback from their teams.
Courtesy of hertelier 👇
Emily Kanders Goldfischer, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, hertelier
A curious journalist passionate about the hotel industry, Emily Kanders Goldfischer founded hertelier in 2021. Emily is a self-confessed “hotel nerd,” and a graduate of the Cornell University Nolan School of Hotel Administration with a master’s from the London School of Economics. She began marketing and promoting hotels, restaurants, and destinations on the agency side, before joining Loews Hotels as the Vice President of Public Relations, managing the brand’s corporate comms and hotel PR for over a decade. Emily curates hertelier’s content through the lens of supporting women in their hotel industry careers. She shares valuable lessons from accomplished pros and rising stars, covering business skills, work/life balance, industry news, and networking opportunities presented in a fresh voice, with bold graphics and social media integration.
“Representation matters, when women see other women succeeding it is inspiring! It is critical to celebrate every step along the journey, no matter how small, because there is always another woman coming up behind and this lights the way for them.” – Emily Goldfischer, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, hertelier
Joanne Taylor-Stagg, General Manager at The Athenaeum Hotel and Residences
Expert in Management, Revenue Management, Food and Beverages, Joanne graduated from the Institute of Hospitality and the University of Strathclyde. Awarded ‘Manager of the Year’ by Catey Awards last year, Joanne Taylor-Stagg is an experienced General Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the industry. Managing the 164-bedroom Athenaeum Hotel & Residences in London since 2019, she has succeeded in creating a welcoming hotel where staff feel important. Both are achievements that were recognised as she won the Independent Hotel Show Awards as ‘Independent Hotelier of the Year’ and the hotel has been voted No.33 in Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards 2021 in the category ‘Our readers’ favourite London hotels’.
Sally Beck, General Manager at Royal Lancaster London and Founder of The Hoteliers’ Charter
A strong leader in the industry, Sally Beck believes that people strive by doing what’s best for them. She has worked her way up from a junior Hotel Management level to becoming Director of Sales and Marketing, managing both the operations and finance teams for several years within luxury hotels. In 2019, Sally was awarded “Hotelier of the year” at the Catey Awards for her impressive work as a General Manager of the 411-bedroom Royal Lancaster London, and founded The Hoteliers’ Charter the same year. Her idea behind the platform is to support hotel workers who suffer from poor working conditions and highlight the benefits of being part of the industry. The community aims to promote hotel careers as a profession of choice to parents, schools, colleges and universities.
At Otolo, we believe in the importance of highlighting inspirational people who have brought hope and passion to the hospitality industry. Our mission is to connect industry professionals, lead conversations, expand your network, and offer our extensive knowledge of hospitality to improve your business needs. Join the Otolo community today – let’s bring the industry together and make it stronger than ever before.