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Humans of Applejack: Maria Strudwick

Meet The Applejack Team: Maria Strudwick, Talent Manager.

Maria’s passion for recruitment over the past 2 years has seen her become a finalist in the Seek Rising Star Award, an incredible honour in talent acquisition and recruitment.

Maria is a very well-known face around Applejack, working as a waitress and then a host at Bopp & Tone before joining Head Office as our HR Coordinator, and most recently in her role as Applejack Talent Manager.

As a finalist in the Seek Rising Star Awards, Maria has been identified as a young star in the recruitment world. Battling through some of the toughest times in hospitality and recruitment history, thanks to the pandemic, Maria played a prominent role in helping Applejack stay afloat and thrive during these major staff shortages.


Maria’s story and journey toward this nomination is inspiring and we can’t wait to get to know her a little better. Keep reading to find out more.

Let’s Chat…

Tell us about yourself and your career progression so far:

Hey, I’m Maria! I’m from Leeds, up north in the UK (if you can’t tell by my accent). I came to Australia on a working holiday visa in 2019, did some travelling, and honestly just fell into Applejack Hospitality. The company was recommended by a friend, and it was just meant to be a casual first job to get some money after travelling and help us get settled in Sydney.

I started as a waitress at Bopp & Tone and now nearly 3 years later I’m in the HR team as Talent Manager! My background in the UK has always been hospitality and a few years in recruitment so now I get to combine the two and honestly, it’s the best job 

Tell us about the Seek Rising Star award, how were you nominated & what is the process involved in the selection of the winner?

I have been nominated for the Talent Acquisition Rising Star of the Year Award in The SEEK Talent Acquisition Recognition Awards. Seek said they had an astounding number of submissions with an extremely high quality, so to make the top 5 is a great achievement.

Mr Matthew Jenkins (Director of People & Culture) put me forward, I believe he submitted an application and somehow, I’m in the final 5! The organisations that I’m in the final with are HUGE! I’m very honoured to be a finalist. I’ve filmed a short nomination video which was great fun and I guess it’s up to the seek gods to choose the winner. I have no idea until we attend the awards evening later this month.  


What is your favourite part of your job?

Oh, the list is endless! Getting to meet new people everyday and talk about their experiences, having a positive impact on people lives and helping someone find their dream job. I love helping others succeed and building great relationships with people.

Recruitment definitely keeps me on my toes, its super-fast paced and I enjoy the thrill of it. Every single one of our venues is unique so I love introducing candidates to the world of Applejack and finding the right fit for them. I had such an amazing experience with Applejack and if I can help others who want a career in hospitality then I’ll be happy in life!  

What is your favourite Applejack memory?

I have so many! I will always remember my first day at Bopp & Tone, the whole team had a training day with food tasting and wine training, it just brought me so much excitement as my first job in Australia and I knew how good the company was from that day. Other than that, probably my first few shifts at Bopp & Tone, the laughs you have in service are so memorable.  

Oh, and I of course cannot forget last year’s staff party, due to covid the previous years it was put on hold but last year, we did not hold back. Getting all of our employees together to celebrate all the hard work everyone does and the tough few years hospitality faced, it was epic!  

How has your career in hospitality helped you in your current role?

Ooof theres so many transferable skills in hospitality, I honestly believe being in hospitality from 16 has shaped who I am. Its given me communication skills, time management, industry awareness, and interpersonal skills.

I have worked in some incredible venues in the past so that has definitely helped with my attention to detail, multitasking (you learn that one pretty fast in hospitality) and of course teamwork.   

Why should someone look at joining Applejack?

Applejack Hospitality has been my family, my friends, and my home since arriving in Sydney. Cheesy but it’s true! I’m surrounded by some of the industries finest and they inspire me every day. The people I get to work with in venues and head office are just incredible humans.

I love the values that we have as a company, and we hire based on those. Aside from the fabulous food & beverage offerings (which we get a great discount on), every day is so different and a guaranteed laugh. The career opportunities that I have had as well, never in a million years did I think I would be taking a path into HR but I love it and it just feels right.  

How will you celebrate if you take the Seek award home?

I’ll make a huge speech on stage, listing all 300 employees of Applejack to say thank you for being a part of my journey, nah I’m joking, although I’m extremely thankful – I will probably facetime my mum with a celebratory bottle of bubbles (she’s my biggest fan ha!).

We are so proud to see Maria nominated for the Seek Rising Star award and for the incredible role she plays in ensuring Applejack is full of amazing people!

Looking for a job with career progression, training, and where every day is different? Interested in working with Maria?

We are looking for awesome people to join the Applejack crew, apply today at the link below.