Get to know our Board Members
Venues of Excellence executive board is made up of senior leaders from some of our member venues. They bring vast industry expertise and experience to lead and guide the organisation.
Prior to setting my own company Turneraround in 2019 I was a Senior Manager with the Lensbury for 12 years where I was responsible for the growth of the commercial business by over 50% in that period. Lensbury moved from 3 star standards to upper four star and we achieved a Silver Award for hospitality and services.
I am always looking for new ways of doing things and have a thirst for knowledge and experiences. I like to share my skills and Knowledge with others so they can learn and I enjoy developing people to perform to their potential. From developing people and businesses I have grown in to a better manager who has strong influencing and listening skills. I am looking forward to the challenge of chairing Venues of Excellence as the consortium grows and develops to be one of the largest in the market place.
Born in 1947 I was raised in a coalmining village in northeast Derbyshire.
I ran away to sea, joining the Royal Navy as an Ordinary Seaman in 1965. A few years later, bored with being shot at, I resigned in the rank of Commander on 9th April 1999 and on 12th April started as GM of Robinson Executive Centre at Wyboston, then still a building site. After overseeing the completion of the building and recruiting a brand-new team, I opened the centre in September that year, when it became a member of Conference Centres of Excellence. After five years the Centre was sold by its original owners, Robinson College, Cambridge, to Wyboston Lakes. I moved sideways and became Operations Director of Wyboston Lakes, where I stayed until Dec 2012 when I retired.
I joined the board of CCE as Treasurer in Autumn 2004 (and I also became the Treasurer of IACC UK in 2008, and of Academic Venue Solutions in 2019).
Mandy Jennings offers over 25 years sales & marketing experience in hotel and conference centres including senior sales positions with Thistle, Forte & Le Meridien, Marriott Hotels and in particular offers Venues of Excellence her extensive knowledge gained as Group Sales Director for the De Vere Group and Principal Hayley Hotels and Conference Centres.
Mandy set up her own company, Paje Consultancy over 11 years ago which now is a successful consultancy and hospitality training business.
Mandy is delighted to be working in partnership with Venues of Excellence in the position of Executive Director and is a member of the Board.
Mandy is responsible for the strategic direction for Venues of Excellence and guidance for all the key functions including sales, venue find service, marketing, signing up new venue members and a full membership engagement programme.
David Vaughton is Managing Director of Make Venues, a group of three multi-award winning venues, including Woodland Grange in Leamington Spa, Broadway House in Westminster and Engineers’ House in Bristol.
David has over 30 years of general management experience in Hotels, Conference centres and Stadia. The last 17 years has seen him establish Woodland Grange as a reputable, high performing venue and latterly the launch of the Make Venues group in 2008 with responsibility for the growth strategy across the group manifesting in over 50% turnover growth for the period 2014-2019.
David has been heavily involved with Venues of Excellence over the last 15 years having served as a board director, vice-chair on two occasions and Chairman 2017-2019. He has also served on the board of the mia (Meetings Industry Association) previously.
David’s passion is around customer service excellence and growing talent.
As Commercial Director at Whittlebury Park, Marc’s primary role is to lead the organisation through the commercial landscape, identifying new market opportunities, determine the optimal pricing to balance profit with client satisfaction and oversee several teams whose duties span a variety of departments within the organisation such as sales, revenue, marketing, brand & PR.
Having spent 30 years within the hospitality, travel & hotel industries, Marc views his approach as a ‘Market Maker’, who is somebody that works well with other senior Executives to create, mould and communicate the goals and objectives of the business, and can articulate the strategy and measurable tactics to support, of which can be applied in his role on the board of Venues of Excellence for the benefit of its stakeholders.
Kay is Chief Executive of Imago, a subsidiary of Loughborough University, with responsibility for the strategic direction of the group. This includes Burleigh Court, The Link Hotel, Holywell Park conference centre and the Elite Athlete Centre and Hotel. Kay heads up the award‑winning Imago group and has positioned it as one of the leading hospitality brands in the academic sector. Her experience includes overseeing a £ multi-million expansion of Burleigh Court, purchasing a hotel out of administration and establishing it as a successful venue, opening the Elite Athlete Centre and Hotel, hosting Team GB for the 2012 Olympics and achieving Investors in People Platinum, AIM Higher Gold and Green Business Tourism Gold.
Kay is a past chair of Venues of Excellence and a long-standing board director. She has over 25 years’ experience in the hospitality sector and is passionate about the people in our industry and about leading a quality-led sustainable organisation.
I am privileged to work in hospitality meeting amazing people and seeing wonderful venues. My career started in hotels and then moved to managing commercial operations in Universities. These have ranged from 57 to 5,000 bedrooms.
My current position saw the creation of the brand new business of College Court at Leicester University. This involved being the client lead on a £17m project and building a new team to make the award-winning venue. I have served as a Board member for 15 years. I had the honour of being Chair and currently carry out audits on prospective new members.
I am customer & people focussed and hopefully bring experience and fun to Venues of Excellence.
Nicole Sadd, CEO of Rothamsted Enterprises, has spent her career across several sectors in both the UK and USA. From hospitality management to asset management, to managing commercial entities alongside education and research organisations. For over twenty years Nicole has led and developed teams around her, to deliver organisational objectives and generate income.
Nicole combines passion, energy and enthusiasm with real vision and focus. She leads the Rothamsted Enterprises organisation with a strong emphasis on sustainability as well as a drive towards innovation and collaboration in agri-tech.
Outside of the work environment, Nicole is a keen yachtswoman and sailed across the Atlantic in 2008 and competed in the Fastnet race in 2009. More recently she leads a local running group and has completed two marathon walking events for charity.
Nicole is keen to support the Venues of excellence Five quality pledges with a key focus on, caring for our environment.
Martin has worked at the Saïd Business School since 2012, having moved into the conference industry at the University of Sheffield in 2006. Prior to joining the University of Sheffield Martin spent time as an Industrial Metals Trader, trading non-ferrous metals based on rising and falling world metal prices.
Whilst at the University of Sheffield Martin contributed to the successful £160 million student residences project, which created 4,500 new bedrooms and a wide variety of brand new and refurbished conference and meeting facilities.
Having studied Business Information Systems at University Martin is passionate about the use of technology with business and ways in which IT can support business processes.
Martin joined the Venues of Excellence board in 2017 and initiated a venue booking system working group. Martin is currently responsible on the board for quality and how the organisation should apply Excellence in Practice.
Stewart Elsmore is Director of Campus Services at Cranfield University, a world leading and distinctive wholly postgraduate University.
Having trained as a hotelier and spent ten years in hotel general management, Stewart moved into the conference centre sector in 1989 and joined Cranfield Management Development Centre, one of the first purpose-built conference centres.
Stewart’s current responsibilities within his role includes three and four-star standard delegate accommodation across two conference centres, a portfolio of lecture rooms and food outlets, all student accommodation, preschool facilities, sports facilities, lecture room bookings and a range of additional commercial services.
Stewart has been on the Board of the Venues of Excellence since 1993 and has been Vice-Chairman and Chairman on two occasions. Within his role as Board member, Stewart is responsible for managing and developing the Preferred Partner scheme, and forging mutually-beneficial strategic partnerships with external organisations and associations.