Thuthukile Moloto, general manager at the Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! by Marriot Durban Umhlanga, chats to Fundiswa Nkwanyana about what it takes to run a hotel.
My career in hospitality started off as a casual banqueting waitress in a hotel. At the age of 20, I had to drop out of tertiary because my mother could not afford my fees. I found a job at a hotel in Benoni where I worked as a casual waitress. A year later, I joined the Protea Hotel learnership programme that paid for my studies while I worked there. In 2008, I graduated with a diploma in hospitality management.
Over the years, I’ve worked in different departments in hotels. While I was studying and after I graduated, I held different jobs within the hotel group. These included front office supervisor, front office manager, marketing manager and room division manager. In 2016, I was selected to be a pilot student for the executive development programme for women in tourism by the Department of Tourism; this helped to grow my career. A year later, I became the general manager at Protea Hotel by Marriott Karridene Beach and afterwards, general manager at Protea Hotel Fire & Ice Durban. Through learnerships and development, I was able to grow my career.
I manage a four-star hotel that has 96 permanent and 45 outsourced staff in Umhlanga. A huge part of my job is to run a profitable business, manage staff members, maintain the property and ensure that guests enjoy their stay. My job has its challenges, such as the long hours and ensuring that guests are safe. But, I enjoy and use them as a learning curve. It also helps that I have the training to overcome the challenges, and I have access to high-ranking officials in head office that are open to helping.
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In order to be successful in hospitality, you have to be a people person. I meet and serve local and international guests on a daily basis. So, if you want to work in this industry, you need to be friendly and helpful. You also need to study and understand theories. The travel and hospitality industry is growing, resulting in many opportunities for young people. I’m a perfect example of studying and working my way to the top.