As we celebrate International Women’s Day at Blue Apple, we’re proud to recognise the excellent women in our business who go above and beyond to make our company a success.
We are thrilled to have a group of dedicated, inspiring, and creative women in our business. Our head office team is majority female-led and we’re also proud to have a 50% male: female ratio in our Operations Team. We are excited about where we are and where we can go.
We had a chat with our Sales and Marketing Director, Sarah Prentice, about her journey to leadership and why she believes it is important to champion women – today and every day.
1. Who inspired you to be a leader and why?
My mum was hugely inspiring and I was brought up to believe you can do anything if you work hard enough for it. I have to say, Wendy Bartlett was a truly inspirational boss and we worked together for nearly 15 years - I learnt loads. Jeni Edwards was also really inspirational to me in the short time we worked together, we certainly had a few differences in opinion but I really learnt a lot from her! Fortunately, there are some great inspirational leaders in the hospitality industry who are both female and male.
2. What motivated you to step up and be a leader in the business?
I have always been ambitious and driven but my career certainly took a step change when my children were older and I was shortlisted as a Rising Star Finalist at the Shine awards in 2011. The Shine Awards were launched by Alessandra Alonso and Gaby Marcon of Shine People and Places in 2004 and the events were organised by People 1st. As a shortlisted nominee, I also received a six-month mentorship with Alessandra Alonso who was simply amazing. It was so beneficial to be mentored by someone externally and who gave me really honest unbiased feedback and support. I had aspirations then of being a Sales Director and I remember she told me you need to act like a Sales Director and dress like a Sales Director if you want people to take you seriously. She really did give me the confidence, tools and drive to help me step up in my career.
3. What are the benefits of having women in leadership?
From experience, I think women are more adept and comfortable wearing many different hats. They often balance and juggle careers, households and parental duties. This enables them to quickly adjust to new situations and focus on finding solutions to real-life work situations. I do think it is important to have a mix of both great male and female leaders to create a good balance and as long as you are a great trusted leader it shouldn’t really matter your gender
4. Can you identify any areas that need to improve in the industry?
We need to let young people know that working in hospitality doesn’t always mean evening and weekend work and introduce them to our industry at a younger age. The contract catering sector rose 36% to £4.4 billion in 2022 and yes, the hours can be sociable and there are so many different career opportunities for all.
5. What advice would you give to a young woman at the beginning of her career?
Luckily in the hospitality industry, we have fantastic career paths for all…and with more successful female leaders and chefs in the hospitality field, I do think the hospitality world is your Oyster. Set your goals high and work hard for them. It is important to let people know what your aspirations are and ask people for help in trying to get there or achieve them. Sometimes you do need to switch companies or job roles to help you get to your end goal and you need to make sure you follow your aspirations and travel the right path. No one got anywhere alone, especially in our sector. Be a great work buddy and gain the trust of your team. Most importantly make sure you love what you do and if you don’t do something different - honestly life is too short!