The University of Sunderland and the North East Hoteliers Association (NEHA) are delighted to celebrate the successful completion of the inaugural Hospitality Mentor Programme, which provided a unique opportunity for students to gain valuable insights and guidance from seasoned professionals in the hospitality industry.
Initiated in January this year, the Hospitality Mentor Programme was specifically designed to connect International Hospitality and Tourism students, and later expanded to include Event Management students, with experienced hoteliers from some of the region’s most prestigious hotels, including the Maldron Hotel and Holiday Inn, Gosforth Park. The mentors, including Anna Wadcock, Sarah Harrison, Paul Borg, Norrie Oswald, Lisa Crocker, Paul Mandier, and Carlo Lulianella from NEHA and a group of General Managers, generously offered their time to guide and support the students throughout the programme.
BBC1 Radio presenter, Jordan North was on hand to offer his support to the students and received an honorary fellowship at the graduation ceremony.
The aim of the programme was to equip students with practical knowledge and experience that would help them excel in their careers and navigate the transition from education to employment. By collaborating with NEHA, the University of Sunderland provided students with a unique opportunity to network with industry leaders, learn about various career paths, and acquire valuable skills that they can apply in their future roles.
Expressing his enthusiasm about the successful completion of the programme, Serkan Uzunogullari, Programme Leader for BSc (Hons) International Tourism and Hospitality Management at the University of Sunderland, said, “The Hospitality Mentor Programme is a testament to our University’s commitment to producing graduates who are well-prepared for success in their careers. We are grateful to NEHA and the dedicated mentors for their invaluable support in nurturing the talents of our students and preparing them for the competitive job market.”
One of the participating students, Mustafa Zahid Lukmanjee, who is also the University’s Student Voice Rep for Tourism, expressed his delight about being part of the programme, stating, “The Hospitality Mentor Programme has been an amazing opportunity for me, and I’m proud to have been a part of it. Meeting experienced general managers from various hotels in the north-east and learning about the inner workings of the industry has been invaluable. I am excited to continue the program and further enhance my knowledge about the hospitality sector.”
In addition to providing students with invaluable mentorship, the programme also played a significant role in supporting the hospitality industry’s post-COVID labour shortage. By fostering partnerships between students and established professionals, the initiative aimed to encourage more talented individuals to pursue careers within the industry.
Anna Wadcock, co-chair of the NEHA, expressed her gratitude and enthusiasm for the programme, saying, “We are delighted to have teamed up with the University of Sunderland in delivering the first Hospitality Mentor programme. This partnership marks the beginning of a lasting relationship between the North East Hotels Association and the University, with the aim of nurturing future stars of hospitality. We extend our heartfelt thanks to all the experienced general managers who selflessly shared their knowledge and experiences with the students. Together, we are shaping a fantastic career path for these bright individuals within our amazing industry.”
The recent graduation ceremony witnessed the proud accomplishments of the students who participated in the Hospitality Mentor Programme. Their experiences and growth during the programme exemplified the positive impact of such collaborative initiatives on the next generation of hospitality professionals. The mentees who graduated recently, is the first of what will continue to come to fruition in the years to come.
The University of Sunderland and NEHA look forward to building on the success of the Hospitality Mentor Programme and continuing to strengthen their partnership in creating a bright and prosperous future for the hospitality industry.