Following an intense application and two-stage interview process, I was incredibly honoured to have been awarded The Stuart Johnson Scholarship, in partnership with Master Innholders. Whilst I am still a little dumbfounded at having been chosen, I will do my best to explain how important this opportunity is to me. It is not just the financial element (although that definitely helps), which makes this accolade so incredibly special. It is also the recognition of my hard work and achievements combined with the visibility and incredible connections I have gained in industry as a result. 

Whilst I am self-aware enough to know that I am incredibly hardworking and driven, I often doubt my abilities and am told by people that know me to have more faith in myself. Being selected for this scholarship does feel like a sign that maybe they’re right and I am feeling both proud and more confident in myself as I approach graduation. 

Furthermore, since I was announced as the first recipient of The Stuart Johnson Scholarship on LinkedIn, I have received messages of congratulations from huge names in industry. Knowing that so many people are supporting my professional success is, whilst a little daunting, incredibly motivating and humbling. 

Whilst the application process began a few weeks ago, my interactions with Master Innholders began in my first term at Edge Hotel School when Dan and Rohaise Rose-Bristow and other members of the Master Innholders spoke at the Edge Student Conference. A little over a year later, I was able to attend the Master Innholders 2024 Conference, which was an incredible demonstration of how industry leaders are continually innovating and supporting one another to progress. It was also an amazing opportunity for networking, and I was lucky enough to meet some of the current Master Innholders’ Aspiring Leaders cohort. The Aspiring Leaders programme is just one way that Master Innholders supports education in the hospitality industry. Throughout the conference, I felt incredibly honoured to be part of such a special event. 

The first interview for the scholarship consisted of a panel, made up of Andy Boer (Head of Department at Edge Hotel School), Emily Clark (Industry Engagement Officer for Edge) and Dan Rose-Bristow (Chairman of the Master Innholders), drilling me on my knowledge of the Master Innholders, why I felt I would be a good representative for them and how I would use the bursary. Although at times I felt like I was on The Apprentice, I enjoyed discussing both my contributions to Wivenhoe House and academic achievements, as well as my experience outside of Edge Hotel School. I was also excited to be talking about some of the contemporary issues that I am passionate about with Dan. 

Having thought I might have blown it by comparing myself to a hippopotamus when their final interview question asked what animal I would be, I was amazed to be invited for a second interview with Stuart Johnson’s son Edward. After a tour of Wivenhoe House, Edward and I sat down for lunch at The Park Brasserie and talked over my career aspirations. It was also incredible to hear more about his father Stuart and his own experience in the hospitality industry. 

Following this meeting, I was amazed and grateful to have been awarded the scholarship. Stuart Johnson was a previous chairman of the Master Innholders, and I am honoured to be a part of his legacy. He was an advocate for recruiting young people to the industry and advancing their careers, as well as having an inspirational career as the youngest manager of the Savoy, general manager of the Cliveden and then long-standing general manager of Brown’s Hotel. 

I do believe that this experience is a prime example of why studying hospitality or events management with Edge Hotel School is such a rewarding experience. Working in Wivenhoe House whilst studying, especially on the 2-year accelerated course, can be challenging, but the opportunities that Edge provides are well worth it. The combination of practical learning and engagement with industry, including site visits, consultancy projects and guest lecturers, give us greater visibility and prepare us for our careers after Edge.