The Importance of Effective Leadership: Arena Panel Discussion at HRC - 1.45pm Tuesday 26 March 2024

By Lorraine, Tuesday 19 March 2024

On Tuesday 26 March 2024 within the Networking Hub at HRC Arena's Director, Lorraine Wood, will host a drinks reception followed by a panel discussion of esteemed hospitality and foodservice leaders. The discussion will focus on the challenges and opportunities affecting the sector, the importance of building strong, solid relationships; the art of effective leadership and how do you get more diverse thinking into your business.

Given the discussion takes place the same month as International Women’s Day – a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, our panel will also discuss what advice they would give to women starting out on a career in hospitality; barriers they may have come across and how did they overcome them; how can we as an industry collaborate to help women progress; how can we get more women onto management boards plus much more.

Our Speakers

Shereen Ritchie, CEO, Buns from Home

Shereen has 25 years of experience in everything hospitality, PR and construction and is a leader with a difference. She can give you a masterclass in how to lead by inspiration, she creates teams with the strength of lions, and her ‘Only Way is Essex’ upbringing taught her to add glitter and unicorns to everything.

She believes that business success involves balancing operational and commercial considerations with human ones. She has a proven track-record in building, leading and managing high-performing teams that have delivered outstanding revenue performance in exceptionally tough market conditions.

Her approach has helped her to turn around enterprise performance, routinely beat budgets, and create and launch a new digital business in just three weeks. She is known for agility, determination and a relentlessly positive attitude that motivates and inspires those around her. She does not back down from a challenge and her teams have made the impossible a reality.

As the former UK Managing Director of LEON she led the brand through its most successful, as well as its most challenging time. Prior to this and after a stint in PR and Construction she ‘returned home’ to hospitality and joined Las Iguanas where she grew the business and supported the sale of Las Iguanas to Casual Dining Group.

Shereen has just been promoted to CEO of the independent London bakery brand, buns from home. The brand that was born during the pandemic has taken the city and social feeds by storm. With ques around the block morning, noon and night, the rapidly growing brand is not only expanding its bakeries but launching into retail and cookbooks.

Having started her journey in hospitality at 15 years old, she got an evening job cleaning tables at TGI Fridays. Little did she know at the time that this part time job would shape her future in the most significant way. She can still teach you the TGI Fridays trick of how to hold 6 glasses in one hand!

Paul Pavli, CEO, Paul Pavli Consulting

Paul’s career spans over 35 years in hospitality & leisure with FTSE businesses such as Whitbread, JD Wetherspoon & Punch Taverns.  He is an Exec / C-suite leader with expertise in growth, turnaround, & business sale, exit in Private Equity & Plc’s.  His most recent exec role was at Punch taverns where he served as Managing Director for 4 of his 14 years with the business.  He is currently Non-Exec Director for Our Yummy Collection, Black Rock Restaurants, GigRealm, as well as being a trustee for the Only A pavement Away Charity.  Previous Non-Exec roles he has held were with The British Institute of Innkeeping, Transition and Bums on Seats.  

Paul’s roles have predominantly focussed on the strategic operation of the business to deliver the financial & people plan across all channels, recently an increasing emphasis has been on longer-term strategy & business sale/exit.With extensive experience leading & inspiring cross-functional teams he has achieved outstanding results & has coached numerous individuals to realise their full potentia.

As a strategic consultant, he has worked with FTSE businesses in the hospitality & leisure sector & several business start-ups in food service, restaurant, pub, brewing, retail & digital sectors.Paul drives business performance & profitability to unlock value & deliver sustainable commercial success. He has a record of creating innovative strategies & a winning culture that engages staff to exceed expectations.

Paul is an advocate of diversity & inclusion & proactively supports & develops talent. His interests include the Plan B Mentoring Program, which is committed to the development of women to progress in their careers.


Joanna Aunon, Director, WiHTL

Joanna Aunon is the Director of the WiHTL and Diversity in Retail (DiR). Following a career in multiple sectors with companies such as Hilton and TJX Europe, Joanna has worked with Tea Colaianni, the Founder and Chair of WiHTL and DiR since 2018 to build the Collaboration Community to the 110+ Members it has today. In addition Joanna looks after the delivery of all bespoke projects for Members and non Members of the Collaboration Community,working with Leaders across the industry to build their inclusion confidence.

Joanna is also known as a key speaker on the topic of inclusion, diversity and equity and her desire to make meaningful progress across the sector.



Britta Ashu, Head of Digital Marketing, Bidfood

Originally from Denmark, it has now been nearly 30 years since Britta packed a backpack and booked a week in a London B&B, choosing the travel bug over university. She fell in love - with her Cameroonian husband and eventually with London, too - and have since brought up two children whilst building up over 20 years’ experience as a marketer in the F&B industry.

Britta is currently the Head of Digital Marketing at Bidfood UK and have only in the last few years gone back to studying, recently completing her masters in Digital Marketing.