Press Release – Crowne Plaza
July 1 2016
IHG inspires young New Zealanders to #believeyoucan
A leading New Zealand hotel group is inspiring and mobilising the next generation of Kiwi leaders in partnership with the Sir Peter Blake Trust.
The annual awards being held today (July 1) are followed by the Trust’s Leadership Week in which four staff members from IHG properties around New Zealand have been selected to join the Trust’s Dream Team, an exclusive group of inspirational leaders inspiring Kiwi children to follow their dreams.
The Dream Team will speak at individual schools during Leadership Week to inspire local children about their story, plant seeds of inspiration for a career in the hotel industry and encourage students to “dream big” and continue Sir Peter Blake’s legacy.
IHG Dream Team members include Banquets Operations Manager Catherine Bodnar from Holiday Inn Auckland Airport, Crowne Plaza Auckland Operations Manager Sam Swaffield, Crowne Plaza Queenstown’s Duty Manager Billi Skipage and Chief Concierge Jason Eade from InterContinental Wellington.
The theme for 2016 is #believeyoucan, taken directly from Sir Peter’s last voyage when he wrote, ‘To win, you have to believe you can do it’.
New Zealand Area General Manager Tim Pollock said promoting young talent was “hugely important” at IHG.
“We’ve supported The Sir Peter Blake Trust for a number of years and we’re thrilled to do so because we share many similar values,” he says.
“IHG believes it’s our people who have brought us to where we are today, and our people who will help us grow. That’s why we invest in programmes such as our Future Leaders mentoring scheme, which identifies high potential talent and grooms local talent for a global career.”
Currently chief concierge at Intercontinental Wellington, Jason Eade was a New Zealand boxing champion with his sights set on an Olympic medal when a motorcycle accident robbed him of a leg.
With inspirational determination, he turned his attention to wheelchair-based sports including tennis and basketball, and in 2012 was chosen as one of 8000 Olympic torch-bearers. He’ll no doubt inspire Hutt Intermediate students by expressing the importance of determination to help reach goals.
Catherine Bodnar will visit 90 students at Nga Iwi School in Auckland to share her passion for hospitality while working across all New Zealand’s IHG brands and the driving force behind her own development.
Sam Swaffield will inspire 30 Botany Downs College students on the importance of gaining valuable leadership skills at high school, and reflect on how he chased his dreams to start a career in the hotel industry.
Billi Skipage started her career as a food and beverage attendant and rose to become Crowne Plaza Queenstown duty manager in just 18 months. She’ll inspire students at St Joseph’s School to believe they can achieve anything.
The IHG Future Leaders programme is a challenging, fast track, hotel-based two-year development programme grooming local leaders for IHG hotels.
The Blake Leader Award recognises inspirational leaders who have determination, a will to succeed, and a belief in achieving extraordinary things. Past recipients have included Tim Alpe, Kathryn Wilson, and Beatrice Faumuina.
The Blake Medal is the premium award for outstanding leadership achievement in New Zealand, with just one awarded each year. Past recipients include Sir Peter Jackson, Sir Stephen Tindall, and Dame Margaret Bazley.
IHG currently operates five properties in New Zealand including Crowne Plaza hotels in Auckland and Queenstown, two Holiday Inn properties in Rotorua and at Auckland Airport, and the InterContinental Wellington.
For more information on the Blake Leader Awards and Sir Peter Blake Trust, go to