CEDA Grand Prix Awards judges, John Savage and Ron Neville, couldn’t separate the four shortlisted candidates for this year’s Rising Stars Award.
The accolade, now in its sixth year, recognises any employee at a CEDA member distributor with less than 5 years’ experience but who has already made a significant impact on their business.
Four shortlisted nominees were interviewed by the judges over Teams, but CEDA director general Adam Mason reported that Savage and Neville were so impressed by the quartet, they made the “unprecedented” decision to give a trophy to each one.
So the joint winners are: Diego Castaneda, service engineer, Court Catering Equipment; Joanne Hamilton, service manager, Catering Supplies & Repairs (CSR); Luke Slater, project manager, C&C Catering Equipment; and Charlotte Carrie, service coordinator, TAG Catering Equipment.
Mason praised: “The four individuals were outstanding, and it was a privilege to hear their stories, feel their passion, and understand so completely why their employers had nominated them. All four of them remained operational throughout the pandemic, and just that itself speaks absolute volumes as to their importance to their business. And all four entries had outstanding customer feedback supporting their applications.”
Castenada joined Court Catering Equipment in February 2016 as a member of the delivery team. It was clear he had ability and he was keen to progress and expressed an interest in being a catering engineer and in January 2019 he moved to the service department as a mature trainee.
He started working alongside one of Court’s most experienced and long-standing engineers, Andy Smith, learning new skills very quickly. He was enrolled on the First Choice Training managed learning programme and continued through the pandemic to complete the various portfolio tasks required along with the gaining his CEDA electrical qualification. Castenada passed his managed learning course and then gained his ACS qualifications in March 2021.
In August 2021 he successfully gained his ACS LPG and domestic cooker qualifications.
While completing the managed learning programme he has also attended various manufacturers training courses which has helped him to progress his knowledge and understanding. Court’s Peter Baulch commented: “Diego has developed into a first-rate engineer and will turn his hand to any challenge. He has fantastic interpersonal skills which holds him in good stead with our customers.”
The second winner, Joanne Hamilton, has been an employee of CSR from February 2019 where she started in the position of service administrator. After being with CSR for only 7 months, she was promoted into the position of service manager, overseeing 16 members of staff.
When the pandemic hit, Hamilton was one of only two employees still working in the office. She was the driving force in getting the staff set up from home so that they could still work and to put a bank of engineers in place for the work the team still had to do when others were placed on furlough.
Her new mission has been to develop an online maintenance report so engineers can complete these in on their tablets as with everything in an electronic format cuts down on paper copies. To add to the list of her achievements she was heavily involved in the development of the new website.
CSR’s Lynn Stewart summed up: “She is a force to be reckoned with and her ability to do her job has to be truly admired.”
The third winner, Luke Slater, has only been at C&C Catering Equipment for just over a year but has already delivered a multimillion-pound scheme to an excellent standard, and all whilst working through the Covid-19 pandemic.
MD Peter Kitchin appraised: “He continues to step up to new challenges with an eagerness for excellence. As mentioned, Luke joined the team during the Covid-19 pandemic, and whilst this may have been a challenging time to take on a new role, he hit the ground running and ensured C&C were fully prepared for any supply chain delays and staff shortages and was proactive to overcome challenges and think on his feet to offer practical solutions.
“Luke has exceeded expectations since joining the business as project manager due to his enthusiasm and dedication to excellence in all areas of his role, and specifically working with the end user of the kitchen in the forefront of his mind to provide them with the best experience. As a result, this has created additional orders and opportunities to supply extras for existing projects, including adding a whole new kitchen prep area at the Pan Pacific Hotel where Luke has worked the last 12 months.”
Completing the quartet, TAG’s Charlotte Carrie was described as an “unsung hero” by her colleagues.
She has progressed to be at senior service coordinator level despite being one of the youngest members of the team.
TAG’s Bianca Stephens-Smith paid tribute, saying: “Charlotte demonstrates clear and quick decision making, despite stressful situations, in order to satisfy the needs of our client and ensure the client comes first. A big team player, staying late if required and one of the first in, ensuring that any outstanding jobs and tasks are completed, keeping our customers satisfied, Charlotte always has a smile on her face and remains a happy member of the team, adding to office positivity and morale.
“Overall, Charlotte has demonstrated an unrivalled level of commitment, tenacity, decision making and maturity that far exceeds her age, job experience and industry experience.”