Elizabeth competed as part of Team UK in Restaurant Service at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017, reaching world-class standards in her skill and securing a Medallion of Excellence. Since then, she has excelled in her career and is currently Assistant Restaurant Manager of Strathearn Restaurant at the five-star Gleneagles Hotel.
Elizabeth left Italy in her teens with her family to emigrate to Wales saying, “I started learning English while I was still in Italy and my reading and writing were OK, but speaking English was much more difficult, and took some time.” Now a highly articulate English speaker with a lilting Welsh accent Elizabeth has certainly overcome the language challenge.
Italy is well known for its varied cuisine and many kinds of restaurants as well as legendary home-cooking. “I was so inspired by my mum cooking at home as well as my godparents, it was so much part of my life I decided to take it further.”
Elizabeth was inspired to take hospitality, maths and Italian A-Levels but found it wasn’t possible to do this combination at a single college. Once in Wales Elizabeth made her choices, “I decided on a course in hospitality and Italian and to postpone maths until a couple of years later.” In the event she lost her heart to hospitality and didn’t take maths at all. Not all learning took place in the classroom, “It was great mixing with different crowds of people and coming into contact with varied influences, I learned a lot.”
Elizabeth first heard about WorldSkills UK Competitions from her tutor at Cole Sir Gar and entered the National Qualifiers for Restaurant Service in 2015 before entering the National Finals at NEC Birmingham in November that year, and competing in front of thousands of spectators, including many who were thinking of a career in hospitality. She won a coveted Gold Medal, seeing off competition from all over the UK.
Competing is a test of skills application and problem-solving under timed, real-life working situations and Elizabeth rose to the challenge, “At first I found working under pressure surrounded by judges nerve-wracking but I learned though the international competition to focus and control myself.” She adds, “Taking part in pressure tests in Italy and Taiwan brought me experience and a different kind of energy.”
Competing in WorldSkills Abu Dhabi in 2017 against competitors from over 60 countries, Elizabeth came back with a Medallion of Excellence recognising that her skill in hospitality met world-class standards.
For young people thinking of entering WorldSkills Competitions in any skill she has this advice:
“I 100% recommend it for helping you to develop both professionally and personally, it’s an incredible experience and really changes you as a person.”
Asked how competing has influenced her career progression, Elizabeth sums it up with one word: “upward”, adding, “WorldSkills UK Competitions were the beginning. I moved to Scotland before WorldSkills Abu Dhabi to develop my technical skills, which also gave me a new energy to compete. I now work at the five-star Gleneagles Hotel, which is where I did my skills training.”
Elizabeth has a bright future, whether she decides on her early ambition to run her own Italian restaurant or to continue to progress in the sector from her current position of Assistant Restaurant Manager, to continue working in five-star restaurants.
The importance of young people being made aware of what technical training and careers are available, Elizabeth thinks should be advertised more before young people take their GCSEs. “Through education and training you will learn and meet people and make friends for life.”