First Women Awards: tonight’s the night

TOURISM & LEISURE

Jennifer Atkinson, CEO, International Travel Connections

Talk about stepping into the hot seat. When Jennifer took over one of the UK’s longest established luxury travel operators, she also replaced one of the industry’s most charismatic figures – Drew Foster, the man who launched luxury travel to the Caribbean and was the first to charter Concorde to Barbados. She has since restructured the business, returning it to profitability. With a young, dynamic management team in place, she aims to show that, even in the age of the internet, a specialist travel operator can offer the best personal service in the world.

Debrah Dhugga, general manager, Dukes London

Debrah leads all operations at the five-star luxury boutique hotel in London’s St James Place. (The hotel’s Dukes Bar is home to some of the world’s finest martinis, and is the birthplace of the famous “shaken, not stirred” line from James Bond creator Ian Fleming.) Under Debrah’s management, Dukes London has grown revenues by 20 per cent in the past year. She is a founding member of women-only industry group, Leading Ladies of London, created to bring more women leaders into the hotel industry.

Pamela Joseph, commercial director, Bluestone Resorts

Conceived as an eco-friendly destination in the UK’s only coastal national park, Bluestone was destined to be a huge, challenging project. Involved from the start, Pamela has been a key member of the team delivering this £150m project, which is today Wales’s top short-break destination, on course to become a true five-star short-break attraction for visitors from around the world. “Pamela has delivered outstanding results incorporating a commitment to sustainable development as a central organising principle,” says Commissioner for Wales, Peter Davies.

Thomasina Miers, co-founder and executive chef, Wahaca Restaurants

With influences as diverse as the west coast of Ireland and the street markets of Mexico City, Thomasina “Tommi” Miers is one of Britain’s most inventive, unusual chefs and writers. Since winning MasterChef in 2005, she has written four books and opened four Wahaca restaurants in London; and co-presented two Channel 4 cooking series (the next, Mexican Food Made Simple, airs in July on Channel 5). She’s an active supporter of NABMA, the National Association for British Market Authorities, which lobbies government to lend more planning and logistical support to street markets, thus improving unemployment, sustainability and a better community spirit.

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