Deborah Homshaw, the managing director of CH&CO Education and Healthcare, donned her gown and cap to take to the stage as guest speaker at the Westminster Kingsway College graduation ceremony.
The very special event on 4 October, recognised and celebrated the achievements of Westminster Kingsway College’s Higher Education students who had successfully earned their bachelor’s degrees.
Deborah was invited to take the honour of Graduation Guest Speaker for her valued contribution to Westminster Kingsway College’s Higher Education Department, with collaborations including the Education Board, as well as her fervent belief in the importance of nurturing hospitality talent, encouraging progression and innovation.
The theme of this year’s graduation was ‘Setting High Expectations’ and the class of 2020/21 was inspired by Deborah’s words. Deborah’s hospitality career spans more than three decades and encapsulates the incredible social mobility the industry offers, which in her case was a meteoric rise from kitchen porter in a pub to the board room, now leading a team of 2000 across 300 sites.
Deborah’s career progression, punctuated with life-affirming personal challenges, is one of aspiration, ambition, resilience, and self-development and self-belief. Her message to the graduates about to embark on their own career journeys couldn’t have been clearer. As she congratulated the future leaders of the hospitality industry she said: “Hospitality is diverse and exciting, and we can all become absolutely anything we want to be. It’s the most socially mobile sector for those with the right attitude, energy and determination. It’s time to be brave; brave in your choices and brave in your vision. Believe in yourselves, set your standards high and it will happen.”
As well as championing personal development and progression, Deborah also spoke of the importance of empathy and understanding in leadership, urging the graduates to always stop, take notice of and listen to those around them as they rise to the top.
Petrena O’Halloran, Head of School – Higher Education & Professional Programmes, Westminster Kingsway College, said: “Deborah’s powerful message was not only inspiring to the next generation of hospitality leaders, but set the benchmark for a new impressive brand of leadership that advocates moral engagement. As our students start their respective careers, Deborah encouraged them to be brave and explore all opportunities. Her message was truly the hallmark of this special occasion.”