Tom Jackson and his Acorn Award

5th February 2019

Last year, Tom Jackson, our youngest area manager, received an Acorn Award – one of 30 of the brightest prospects in the hospitality industry under the age of 30 to receive this accolade.


Now in the Acorn Hall of Fame, along with celebrity chefs, Jamie Oliver and Marco Pierre White, Tom has taken some time out of his busy day to talk about his Acorn experience.


What was it like to be part of the Acorn Awards?


The honour of being an Acorn Award winner 2018 and joining that exclusive list was a dream come true. To be one of the 30 inspiring, talented individuals to win acorn award last year was a humbling experience. The winners’ weekend was an unforgettable experience filled with surprises, team building exercises and brilliant food and drinks. Put together by the ACT Clean team and The Caterer, you could tell it was an event they love to plan and deliver every year. We have all taken away memories, inspiring stories of each other and friends. It was great to spend time with Carolyne Vale and I felt very honoured to have been nominated by her. She is an amazing support and inspiration to all of us, always developing people and seeing their potential.


How has it impacted on you this past year?


What surprised me was how many job candidates who came for interview knew of my award. They had obviously Googled my name and found media coverage about it. It just shows the value of winning a high profile industry award and the positive impact it can have on an individual and also a company. Another great advantage was that I met so many truly inspiring people, some of whom I had worked with in the past. I subsequently met up with several of them throughout year.


Winning an Acorn has helped me to understand that there is responsibility to set an example, to be a role model, keep standards high and always make time to develop others.


What advice would you offer anyone aspiring to achieve an Acorn Award?


The standards are extremely high, which is why I felt so humbled to be among such an amazing group last year. My advice is:


• If you want to be successful in your career, know where you want to be. I have always been very focussed and knew from the outset that catering was my passion. It’s challenging and demanding but so rewarding too, particularly from the people development aspect.


• Get yourself mentors and learn something new every day. Surround yourself with the very best and take inspiration from those around you. I learn something every day from my catering assistants, my chefs, my colleagues in the operations team and the directors of Wilson Vale, as well as from the wider industry. Never stop absorbing new knowledge and pushing yourself to be the very best at what you do. There’s no point doing anything half-heartedly as you will only half get there.


• Share ideas and be generous with your time and knowledge. 50% of my time is spent developing talent and it is an absolute joy seeing people’s craft and managerial skills grow.


• Last but not least, be mindful of the work/life balance. Catering is a fast moving, demanding sector, and as caterers, we hold a huge responsibility to provide healthy, nutritious food to our customers. But our own health is equally important. My final piece of advice is to work hard but enjoy what you do and if you need help or support, ask for it.



28-year-old Tom Jackson moved into the contract catering sector just two years ago as a chef manager from a stellar craft background within hotels and restaurants. He is now responsible for a portfolio of ten clients, as well as leading our northern relief team.