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24 January 2013

HOSPA New Year Honour for arena4finance

The recipient of the first ever special ‘HOSPA Paragon Award’– for outstanding and exemplary work in the field of Hospitality Finance, Revenue Management and IT – is Debra Adams, Head of Professional Development at arena4finance.

She was honoured for her ground breaking achievements in Education for BAHA (British Association of Hospitality Accountants) then its successor HOSPA, and for the highly efficient and inspirational way she has managed the Association’s membership services for the past seven years.

Debra was presented with this very special honour by HOSPA Chairman Paul Dukes – also Chairman at Kew Green Hotels – and HOSPA Chief Executive Carl Weldon. Commenting on her award, Carl Weldon said: “The Oxford Dictionaries definition of a ‘Paragon’ is a flawless diamond; and the title is used figuratively to denote a model of excellence or perfection. Debra Adams is – and has been – such an exemplary model for first BAHA then HOSPA. So it is with great pleasure that HOSPA – the UK’s leading educational organisation for hospitality professionals involved in Financial Management, Revenue Management and IT – has chosen Debra to be the first recipient of this very special, prestigious award.”

For her part, Debra commented: “I am overwhelmed and delighted to receive this award from HOSPA. I would like to share the recognition with my team at arena4finance – all of whom have contributed significantly to the success of BAHA then HOSPA, and our associated projects.”

Amongst her many achievements for the Association, Debra began in 1998 the process of updating, modernising and obtaining funding for the popular BAHA Education and Training Programme (ETP) in Financial Management – with a research project to determine industry needs to inform the renewing of the syllabus. A year later she co-ordinated a programme – involving the management of a team of course writers – to enable the launch of a revised and updated BAHA ETP in Financial Management, based on the strengths of the original programme. In 2000, she was instrumental in gaining accreditation for the BAHA ETP from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. Nine years later, she was pivotal in the Association gaining a further accreditation for the Financial Management ETP – this time from the Open University, enabling learners to get transferable university credit for their studies.

In 2004, Debra formed her own finance training and professional development company – arena4finance, focusing on delivering courses in finance for non financial managers; and a year later, she took on the role of Head of BAHA Administration. In 2006, she extended her BAHA responsibilities when she was appointed Head of Membership and Education Services, consolidating all of the Association’s activities under one administration – based at arena4finance’s Wimborne offices in Dorset.

In the same year, Debra and arena4finance introduced a virtual learning environment to support BAHA (and today HOSPA) learners worldwide. This features e-learning content and includes e-presentations, worked examples, case studies and online workshops – with tutors enabling and encouraging learners to collaborate and share information.

During their time at the administrative helm of BAHA and then HOSPA, Debra and Chief Executive Carl Weldon have overseen the near doubling of the Association’s membership to well over 1,000. Contributing to this achievement has been the key roles played by Debra and Carl in the Association’s decision to re-brand and launch BAHA as HOSPA in 2011; and transform the BAHA Annual Conference and IT Exhibition into HOSPACE – expanding the membership to include Hospitality Revenue Management and IT professionals, in addition to those in Finance.

Back in 2006, BAHA held its first Annual Conference and Exhibition; and Debra was instrumental in its creation – beginning her long involvement with administering and marketing the event. Her team, working together with Carl Weldon, has played a major part in its development and success – helping it grow into the highly acclaimed annual HOSPACE Conference and Exhibition, which in 2012 attracted a record number of over 400 delegates, speakers and IT exhibitors.

Her most recent achievements have included the successful submission to the Savoy Education Trust of a funding bid for the development of the HOSPA ETP in Revenue Management. This has resulted in the development of the programme, in partnership with Oxford Brookes University, and the commencement of the course in October 2011, which was well received and supported by the hospitality industry. A year later, all three stages of the HOSPA EPT in Revenue Management were made available to candidates.

Indeed in December 2012, the prestige of the HOSPA ETP programmes was recognised at the House of Commons when the HOSPA candidates – who achieved the highest results in the 2011/12 Finance and Revenue Management programmes – were inducted into the ‘2012 Young Hall of Fame’ by the Hospitality Guild.

Debra combines her role with HOSPA with running her own successful company – Dorset-based Arena4Finance, which delivers and designs programmes in financial education for clients both in the UK and overseas in a range of industry sectors. She currently holds visiting lecturer roles at Bournemouth University; a variety of Swiss hotel schools such as the prestigious Lausanne Hotel School; and in the Middle East at the Emirates Academy, Dubai. She travels extensively delivering financial management courses and advising on the development of in-house company training programmes – with recent and current projects in the Ukraine, South Africa, United Arab Emirates and Sri Lanka.