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Meet our leadership team

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Sarah Ellis

Business Development Director

How long have you worked at Ashorne Hill for?
I’ve worked at Ashorne Hill for five years.

Following your promotion, how has your role changed and what is your main focus now?

I first joined Ashorne Hill as Business Development Manager focussing mainly on driving venue business. With my promotion a few months ago to Business Development Director my role now is to manage all proactive activity to sell the entire Ashorne Hill experience. Our focus is to build one Ashorne Hill and I’m now able to help to merge the business together to represent both learning and venue in terms of Business Development and Marketing. I now also sit on the leadership team which has been a great step up for both my career and personal development.

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James Lee

Director of Learning & Development

How long have you worked at Ashorne Hill for?

I joined in January 2021.

What changes to the learning environment have you seen since joining Ashorne Hill and most recently post covid?

I think much has changed since I joined Ashorne Hill and now post-covid. The world of learning and how people want to learn in particular, has changed. The desire to get together and enjoy collaborative, in person learning for some is as hungry as ever. For others, it makes more sense for a number of reasons to absorb their learning in bite-size, easily accessible and pull-down formats.

What challenges do you see learners and companies facing and how can Ashorne Hill help overcome these challenges?

I think as hybrid working has become the new norm for many, the way managers manage and learners learn has changed. Many topics are easily delivered in a digital or virtual environment, and this makes for easier consumption in many cases. However, for inter-personal skills development, the clue is in the words, and this can be more of a challenge.

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Renata Homer

General Manager

Wow, 21 years at Ashorne Hill. Tell us a bit about your story?  How you joined Ashorne Hill and how you ended up as General Manager.

When I was 10 I wanted to be a chef and then when I was 14 I went to work as a banqueting waitress in a local hotel.  Before I knew it I had graduated from Manchester Polytechnic in 1990 with a Degree in Hotel and Catering Management and a place on a graduate development programme with De Vere Hotels. I joined Ashorne Hill in 2001 as their first Conference Manager, when Ashorne Hill was only just taking the commercial venue seriously.  My role has changed every few years and I’ve had plenty of development whilst the venue business has grown from strength to strength.  I became General Manager in 2013 and life has certainly not been boring since then!

Ashorne Hill’s mission is to create growth through people, you’ve developed your career at Ashorne Hill, can you explain a little about how your career was allowed to grow at Ashorne Hill and how other people looking to start a career in hospitality can benefit from the development opportunities that Ashorne Hill presents?

The approach at Ashorne Hill has always been about helping people make a difference.  My managers have always encouraged and allowed me to flourish and I have been given many opportunities over the 21 years to step into more challenging and rewarding positions.  My own philosophy is that I want to make the people who work for me the best they can be and I don’t want to hold anyone back from reaching their own personal potential.  I am really proud that a good few of my team have actually been promoted into higher roles (now my direct reports) and this follows down the ranks.  We are not for standing still at Ashorne Hill and if we can develop individuals and departments to make a difference then I’m happy.  I believe that our nurturing approach allows people to grow.

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Becky Brooks

Business Development Manager

Tell us a little about your role and how this has now progressed for the new financial year? 

My role as Business Development Manager really comes down to promoting Ashorne Hill and spreading the word of what an amazing venue and training facility we really are.

The main objective of the role is finding new business, growing and supporting our existing accounts and customers and working alongside our agent partners to ensure we provide the best service possible.

Alongside selling our fantastic venue for your meeting and training needs we also deliver management training programmes provided by our onsite facilitators. We offer three distinct blended learning programmes covering Graduates, First Time Manager and Manager of Managers. We also cover a range of soft skill programmes and coaching.

You mention that Ashorne Hill is a training programme provider, what would you recommend to clients who would like to find out more? 

If companies are looking into management training in any shape or form, we are the place for you. We can provide several solutions for various training needs with our dedicated onsite training team and digital development team.

In my role I work closely with our learning business development executive Lisa; to bring training solutions to clients.

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Stuart Anderson

Executive Head Chef

Before we dive into the menus, Stuart, you’ve been at Ashorne Hill for 19 years. Tell us about what you’ve achieved during your time here?

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time so far at Ashorne Hill and I’ve been allowed to develop my team and my kitchen to deliver great delegate experiences.  Some of the projects I’m most proud of include:

  • Design and build of a new kitchen to improve the kitchen facilities, the flow of the kitchen service and really improve our output.
  • When I arrived the catering was largely provided by a third party but I nurtured my own team and brought the whole operation in house.
  • Listening to our delegates, trainees and understanding food trends, I’ve grown the food offering massively with some really amazing feedback.
  • My team has a lot of loyalty and long service, largely down to my encouragement for them to grow and giving each team member the opportunity to be promoted from within.
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Tracey Ashfield

Venue Sales Manager

Wow, 20 years at Ashorne Hill, that is some milestone.  Tell us about your career path at Ashorne Hill and your journey to Venue Sales Manager.

I came to Ashorne Hill after travelling for a year. I had previously worked in hospitality and knew I wanted to return to it. I started as Deputy Conference Manager with just myself and Renata (now the GM).  We looked after a few venue clients. Our clients grew along with the team and in 2005 I was promoted to Conference Sales Manager overseeing two Conference Coordinators. Since then, my role and team have both expanded. Now I manage and develop the Venue Sales Executives, but I am also involved in various other projects within Ashorne Hill and work closely with the National Sales and Marketing Manager,  our key clients and agencies. I love the variety my role brings.

Tell us about some of the other women in your career that have inspired or mentored you and what their support has meant to you.

My first proper hospitality role started back in 1996. I was young, shy and inexperienced. I worked in both reception and the conference team and was taken under the wing of the BDM. She brought me out of my shell, pushed me out of my comfort zone, coached me to get the highest scores in mystery test calls. She not only became a friend but the Godmother to my eldest child. Since being at Ashorne Hill both Renata Homer and Sarah Ellis have supported and inspired me in some way or another. Renata and I have worked together for almost 20 years and she has been my fountain of knowledge teaching me the tricks of the trade, mentoring me be to more self-assured, confident and business focussed. Since Sarah started five years ago well, we are like two peas in a pod, constantly bouncing off each other with ideas and new challenges of how to ensure we have the best team around us. We keep each other motivated and she is always there to put a smile on my face!

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Jon West

Managing Director

So Jon, tell us a little bit about yourself and how your career led you to Ashorne Hill?

I’ve worked in automotive for the past 30 years in Human Resources.  I started at Ford as a graduate trainee and then came to Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) when Ford acquired Land Rover in 2000.  I always wanted to work in Learning & Development but over the years have tended to gravitate towards Manufacturing and Employee Relations.  For the past 12 years I was manufacturing HR Director and I’ve played a big part in developing the strong relationship that JLR enjoys with their Trade Union partners.  But finally the opportunity came to move into the L&D space and I’m really excited to be doing so in such a beautiful venue and with such a fantastic team.

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