The notion that female staff can only be cleaners or waitresses in the hotel business is a thing of the past. The Protea Hotels by Marriott experience demonstrates how times have changed, with women fast moving up the career ladder in the hospitality industry.

Rising stars are Bosele Mogamisi, Ashlyn Griffiths and Thuthukile Moloto, all currently Rooms Division Managers in Gauteng. Their current roles are grooming them for the future: exposure to the behind-the-scenes management of the hotel – house-keeping, maintenance and security – as well as involvement in monitoring the revenue of the business, is complemented by engaging with hotel guests and prospective corporate clients. So, they have a hand in all the elements of running a hotel – certainly a far cry from changing linen in bedrooms or washing dirty dishes.

Bosele joined the industry armed with a Hospitality Management qualification from the University of Johannesburg, while Thuthukile signed up with Protea Hotels with just a matric. She completed a Hospitality Management learnership while employed by the hotel company. According to Cheryl Buynak, Group Executive – Human Resources for Protea Hotels, Middle East & Africa, Marriott International, Inc., “This reflects our approach to recruitment. We do not only consider employing people who have academic qualifications: we hire for attitude and train for skill. And these women demonstrate just the sort of positive attitude we recognise and reward.”

Through being offered numerous opportunities to work in different roles, staff constantly acquire new skills. It’s evident in the experiences all these young women have had with the company. Having been identified as prospective leaders, they were approached to assist at different times with the opening of new hotels, and gained valuable know-how through holding several positions in a number of hotels.

Thuthukile is also benefitting from the Protea Hotels by Marriott training philosophy – creating opportunities for staff to enhance their academic qualifications while employed. “I am thrilled to have been chosen as one of 20 women to participate in the pilot Executive Development Programme for Women in Tourism run by the Department of Tourism and UNISA’s School of Business Leadership,” she enthuses.

According to Ashlyn, mentorship is a vital part of Protea Hotels’ approach to growing people with a view to providing the next generation of leaders from within the company. And it’s an approach she has benefitted from: starting as a receptionist, she has worked her way up to her current position at the company’s unique transit hotel situated at OR Tambo International Airport. She’s about to move again, this time to the far larger Protea Hotel by Marriott Johannesburg Wanderers.

“As a female employee, I believe that I am guaranteed to grow with Protea Hotels by Marriott,” Bosele says. “Women are empowered in our roles, and we see how other women in the business are able to excel and succeed. I am passionate about the hospitality industry and about my career – and I feel the same way about Protea Hotels by Marriott as an employer.”

This article was first published in The Skills Portal on 16 August 2016