Scholarships awarded to Scottish hospitality’s ambitious youngsters

Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland this week awarded 319 new scholarships to people studying or working in 142 different venues.

The scholarships were handed out at the annual HIT Talent Conference, which took place at the Voco Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow, bringing together hundreds of youngsters to hear a line up of inspirational speakers and enjoy some top-notch catering.

HIT Scotland’s scholarship programme is open to anyone working in or studying towards a hospitality career in Scotland. The scholarships it organises are split into three categories – business, operational and inspirational empowerment – and offer learning experiences to help develop new skills, knowledge, best practice and fresh thinking.

The business empowerment scholarships include the popular people management programmes, teaching a coveted skill in hospitality roles.

Those scholarships were offered at all levels of experience – first time supervisors receiving their first training in managing a team; senior managers for the Art of Leadership Scholarship at Lausanne Hospitality Business School in Switzerland; and one general manager who will attend the Cornell General Manager Programme in the United States.

The operational scholarships cover a diverse range of learning opportunities. This year there will be chefs taking part in new kitchen-based experiences; restaurant and bar staff learning how to run a whisky tasting; sales training; and employees learning how hotel revenue management affects their role.

The bespoke inspirational scholarships allow individuals to tell HIT Scotland what will ‘inspire and motivate them to be the best they can be’.

This year, one scholar will receive a French wine experience, exploring the art of fine wine making in a well-established vineyard in France. Another will be educated on brand repositioning with first-hand knowledge from a roster of well-known brands, looking at global branding from another sector.

Amanda Pirie

This year saw the charity announce its 7000th inspirational scholarship, which went to Amanda Pirie, people manager at The Auchrannie Resort on the Isle of Arran, who will be undertaking the Art of Leadership scholarship.

The Open University Scotland also offered places on their Microcredentials courses, covering a variety of learning options from Project Management to Python Programming.

Last year a new award was introduced in honour of inspirational general manager the late Graeme Gibson, who worked in many of Scotland’s top establishments, latterly The Grand Central Hotel, Glynhill Hotel, and Yotel Glasgow.

That scholarship rewards a rising star working in management in the Greater Glasgow area with executive coaching sessions to help them work on their personal and career development. This year’s winner is Katie Booth, F&B Manager at the AC Hotel by Marriott Glasgow.

Katie Booth receives her scholarship award from HIT Scotland’s David Cochrane

Another special award is the Chris Rouse Scholarship, created in memory of the former general manager of the Turnberry Hotel. Chris was responsible for transforming the hotel into a world leading luxury spa and golf resort, so this award goes to managers who likewise uphold the highest standards for guests and inspire the best from their team.

This year’s Chris Rouse Scholar is Jack McCormick, bar supervisor at Trump Turnberry, who will benefit from executive coaching sessions in addition to his chosen scholarship.

This year a new scholarship opportunity was announced in memory of Lisa Wishart, MD of the Lisini Pub Company, who sadly passed away in 2023. Lisa was an inspirational leader who ran a thriving hospitality company, and was a great ambassador for the trade.

Lisa Wishart scholars Stephanie Jayne-Robertson and Jenny Barlow received their awards at the Glasgow event

There have been two Lisa Wishart Scholars named this year – Stephanie Jayne-Robertson, supervisor at Lisini Pub Co (The Parkville Hotel, Blantyre), will carry out a Customer Experience scholarship, visiting London to learn about service experience and recovery at the Dorchester Collection Academy; while Jenny Barlow, general manager at Scotts Bar and Restaurant in Greenock, will study the Art of Leadership course at the esteemed Lausanne Hospitality Business School in Switzerland.

HIT Scotland chief executive David Cochrane, said: “It is inspiring to have so many of our HIT Scotland scholars in one place to celebrate their achievement this year. These learning experiences are absolutely vital for our sector, allowing fresh ideas to permeate throughout the industry and upskilling the Scottish hospitality workforce.

“Tailored to each scholar’s individual aspirations, HIT Scotland scholarships are incredibly rewarding and empower people to take charge of their career development, all while benefitting the sector at large.

“Myself and everyone at HIT Scotland would like to wish all of our scholars the very best for the year ahead, and can’t wait to follow their progress!”

 HIT Scotland thanked the Savoy Educational Trust, The Crerar Trust, The MacRobert Trust, and Diageo Learning for Life, along with its corporate sponsors, for their support of the 2024 scholarship programme.

To find out more about the scholarships HIT Scotland offer, visit