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Karen Hart, Catering Manager – Mellors Catering Services, Cleveland

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When life threw the toughest situations at Karen Hart, Catering Manager at Mellors Catering Services, her determination and drive to continue with her qualifications and career development is something to be proud of. 

Karen has been working for Mellors (a catering services provider across 190 sites in the North of England and North Wales) for three years and Area Manager Simon Snee, quickly saw Karen’s potential. Simon knew she and the company would benefit greatly if she were to complete the Mellors apprenticeship training. “Within Mellors there is lots of potential for staff to progress throughout the company,” explained Simon. “Mellors are very keen to help their staff develop and offer a wide range of opportunities and training courses, partnering with HIT Training. Karen immediately came across as someone who wanted to develop and progress.”

Prior to starting the Hospitality, Supervision & Leadership Apprenticeship in August 2015, Karen was in a management role. “Completing the apprenticeship meant going the extra mile to improve myself, so I could progress further within the company,” commented Karen. “The Level 3 course involved how to manage a team, learning about different leadership styles and how to ensure that working practices are adequate and in place. I feel that I am much calmer as a result and that I cope better in leading the team without getting frustrated.”

Karen absolutely loved the course, which gave her the desire to start her Level 4. “My HIT Trainer Martine has helped me to understand things fully and has supported me throughout my course both academically and personally…” Unfortunately, throughout Karen’s Level 3, tragedy struck. “My father became very ill,” said Karen. “It was very hard for me juggling work, my studies and looking after him and my mum. He sadly died as I was nearly at the end of the programme. I still managed to complete the qualification, but then as I was completing my Level 4 pre-course work, my mother took ill and also passed away. It was such a sad time for me, and I really don’t know how I managed, but throughout all of it I knew I still wanted to carry on with my training. It was almost a coping mechanism. Martine was literally my rock, she gave me the determination to carry on and succeed despite everything.” 

Since starting the Level 4 Hospitality Management Apprenticeship, Karen has developed her own kitchen with an increased uptake in meals and has also encouraged and supported three members of her team to begin apprenticeships with HIT. “I want my team to have a good range of skills so that when I need to leave the kitchen to support other units, they are confident and able to run the kitchen without me.” Karen has also become a ‘Chef Buddy’, promoting the business in the local school cluster. “Being a Chef Buddy involves a lot of public speaking,” explained Karen. “I assist in presenting for new tenders and for promoting new produce. I hold interactive sessions with school children where I teach them about hospitality as a career and how to cook simple dishes. I can be speaking to a group of 10 one day and a group of 100 the next! It was quite daunting at first but my confidence has increased so much.” 

Karen’s ultimate goal is to become an Area Support Manager. Martine Gibbon, HIT Trainer said, “Karen is such a motivated and driven individual. It is a real pleasure working with her and seeing her develop every day. Any other person would have crumpled after going through what Karen has been through, but she kept going and showed true resilience. She really is an inspiration and I have no doubt that she will fulfil her career goals. I wish her all the very best!” 

 


Testimonials

McMullen’s chose HIT as its sole external provider for Apprenticeships and vocational qualifications in early 2015 and since then we have found them a pleasure to work with.  Their expertise in this sector is superior and they have proven to be a professional and supportive partner who have a passion for learning and development, which matches our own organisation.

Amanda Walden – Training & Recruitment Manager, McMullen's

Encouraging our staff to improve their skills set and supporting them through apprenticeships and training programmes underlines our commitment to help them further develop their own careers. Offering the Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship also gives the Brend Group a point of difference which I’m convinced will help attract new members of staff in the future.

Andrew Mosedale - Group HR Manager, Brend Hotels

Our partnership with HIT has certainly made recruitment much easier in a very difficult labour market and gives us a point of difference in an increasingly competitive environment.  Kew Green has also benefited enormously from well trained, skilled and competent staff who contribute significantly to the ever improving and high levels of customer experience that our guests expect and deserve.

Andrew Tregenza - HR Business Partner, Kew Green Hotels

Apprenticeships allow us to give people a great opportunity to develop a career with us and learn a skill or trade that will accompany them throughout their career and life. We see progression to the Level 4 qualification as key to our strategy of providing development at all stages of an employee’s career with Harrison.

Alex Taylor - Training Manager, Harrison Catering Services

We chose HIT as our training provider not only because of their specialist knowledge of the hospitality industry, but also because of their genuine passion for our brand and their understanding of our company culture. We believe that they can deliver our training to a very high standard whilst passing on our company ethos and values. Their attention to detail is second to none.

Charlotte Thoms, Talent Manager, Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group

There is a shortage of skilled chefs within in our industry at present and any organisation that truly believes in the value of training and development of bright future stars will enable themselves to be in a strong position for the years ahead. Investing in smart training and development is at the heart of what we do within WSH, so it has been refreshing to work alongside HIT within our Baxterstorey Chef Academy. 

Rik Razza - Head of Chef Development, BaxterStorey

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