Ayanda Mazibuko
Deputy General Manager, Palazzo Montecasino

Where are you from? And where are you living now?

I am from Durban but now living in Lonehill, Johannesburg

How old are you?

I am 31 years old

Tell us about yourself?

I am a typical Zulu boy with a “Durban accent” as some of my Jozi friends would say. I am much happier in shorts and boat shoes on a nice summer day. I have a few special people whom I am grateful to call friends. I am always keen for a good ol’ group social. I cherish time with my gorgeous wife and our baby boy Noah named by my wife. I loved that name and nothing compares to the feeling I get when I jump in my car to go see them. We live apart for now because of our careers. My wife is the Internal Sales Manager for Sun City Resort. I am fascinated by my industry and enjoy the multiple interactions with hotel guests and hotel staff. I survive by my DStv Explorer PVR, Catch Up and a Box Office movie with a glass of wine. I enjoy a good conversation and am a sucker for self-help books (The business section). I am driven by my goals and aspirations and believe that nothing is impossible. I was brought into this world by two wonderful parents, my mother – the school principal and my late father – once a Food and Beverage Manager for the same company I now work for. I am humbled when I think of my family.

Where did you study?

International Hotel School – Durban / I am currently part of a Management Development Programme through the University of Stellenbosch, supported by my employer Tsogo Sun.

What year did you graduate?

I graduated in 2003

What did you study?

National Diploma – Hospitality Management/The University of Stellenbosch Management Development Programme is a nine-month course. Graduation: January 2015

Where are you now in your career? Where do you work? How long have you been working there?

I am the Deputy General Manager at the Palazzo Montecasino and have been working here for 11 months, promoted from Rooms Division Manager in May 2014.

When and where did your passion for hospitality begin?

In my early teenage years, visiting my father at Drakensberg Sun, we would staff at his staff house, swim at the staff village pool, play watersports and dine at the hotel restaurant. I always used to watch my father going up and down the hotel lobby, speaking to people and he looked so important that I wanted to work where he worked and do what he did.

Where do you see yourself in 2, 5, and 10 years’ time?

I see myself as a General Manager of my own unit within Tsogo Sun in the next two years. Only bigger and better things will happen from there onwards… Maybe part of the Board of Directors for a while and then beginning my very own business, a medium-sized luxury boutique hotel, offering experiences that both my guests and I will enjoy.

Has working in the hospitality industry been different from how you imagined?

Yes of course – nothing compared to what I thought initially… I always blame my father for not taking me to the back of the house, the kitchen and the busy housekeeping floors. I thought in my mind I would eat where the guests eat and live like they did… I got it completely wrong as a teenager. I never imagined the language that is used in the offices; the people always seemed pleased and happy in front of customers. Let€™s just say my first day of my in-service training at the Royal Hotel Durban was a complete shocker!

Any advice for young people considering hospitality?

Yes – ask for an internship first, probably the best thing you can do before committing to the life of hospitality. It is the best place to work if you have the “magic” but on the other hand, unfortunately it can be a living hell if you are simply not cut out for it.

What is your motto in life?

Nothing is impossible.

What has been your most memorable moment working in the hospitality industry?

Having to check out a host of former Miss SA’s at The Palace of the Lost City after a Miss South Africa pageant. They we all lovely people, especially Jo-Anne Strauss. There are many more others, including meeting Prince Harry at Lesotho Sun Hotel.

How has the International Hotel School helped you in advancing your career in the industry?

The International Hotel School gave me a solid academic foundation to kick-start my exciting career. It further succeeded in ensuring that I was well-groomed through its well-structured in-service training programme. The interactions and lessons learned from the various managers at the Royal Hotel in Durban are what guided me to what I have become today.

Johan Scheepers
General Manager at Maslow Hotel, Sandton

Scheepers started his hospitality career as a Management Trainee at the (Three Cities) Carlton Hotel in Johannesburg back in 1995. After graduating with a Hospitality Management Diploma, Scheepers moved to London in 1997 to become Assistant Restaurant Manager at Richoux Restaurants. He went on to become Guest Relations and then Sales Manager for the Radisson Edwardian Hotels in London. During his four-year tenure with the Radisson Edwardian, he was awarded an Acorn award for outstanding achievements in the industry. Scheepers also jumped at the opportunity to study at Oxford where he completed an Advanced Management Programme. The programme included, amongst other topics, strategic marketing, organisational behaviour and corporate finance.

Scheepers returned to South Africa in 1999 to work for Sun International as Duty Manager of The Palace of the Lost City at Sun City. In 2001, he became Front Office Manager for the Ambassador Hotel in Cape Town. He then moved back to London in 2003 and worked for Radisson Edwardian again, this time at the Grafton and Mountbatten Hotels, before being promoted to Operations Manager at the Radisson Edwardian Hotel, Manchester.

From 2007 to end 2008 he worked for Abode Hotels and Michael Caines Restaurants as opening General Manager. In February 2010 he joined Guoman and Thistle Hotels as General Manager of The Kingsley and Thistle Euston. Scheepers was awarded Thistle General Manager of the Year in 2011 for the re-launching of the Thistle Kingsley Hotel in London’s West End and also under his leadership the Kingsley was awarded a Hospitality Assured Award for highest scoring best newcomer in 2011 from the Hospitality Institute. Scheepers was instrumental in repositioning the refurbished hotel, from a three-star hotel to a four-star deluxe hotel delivering the expected service levels and revenues.

In September 2012, Scheepers accepted the appointment as General Manager of Sun International’s first corporate hotel in Sandton, The Maslow Hotel, which opened its doors in January 2013. This is where Scheepers works today and he maintains his approach to hospitality is based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: “To succeed, we need to meet our guests’ physiological and safety needs, we need to give them a sense of belonging, respect their personal ambitions and help them realise their potential.”

Cherise Parker
Owner, Parker Events Management

Recognised in Dubai as a leader in event production and management, Cherise is an operational and creative powerhouse. With over eight years of experience managing international events, including the likes of Fashion Forward, Arabian Hotel and Investment Conference, Splash Fashion Show and much more, her tact in mitigating event risk is unmatched. She began her technical event management training at Johannesburg’s International Hotel School in 2006, rising quickly through the ranks over the next several years. Starting in 2011, she was a driving force behind the success and growth of the Madinat Jumeirah’s events department before leaving in 2014 and founding Parker Events Management. Cherise comes from a family of hospitality industry leaders and has an incredible talent and love for the field. She is an active rock-climber and enjoys camping in the UAE and Oman.

Best advice for any IHS student: Work hard, but don’t get lost in the daily drudgery of what you are doing. Always remember to step back and look at the big picture of your career, make big leaps into uncomfortable territory and build meaningful relationships with those around you. Be sure to find a mentor and always keep your mind open to bettering yourself just a little bit every day.

Bronley-Robyn Gover
Owner and Managing Director, The Silver Flair

I started studying at the International Hotel School in 2004 and graduated in 2006. I have never looked back. What I learned while studying and working in the hospitality industry is something that one could only wish for. Not only did it open so many doors, but filled me with knowledge and understanding of various worldwide cultures. With all this at my fingertips and the experience that I had gained during this time, I was able to open my own successful company.

I opened The Silver Flair, the year after graduating from The International Hotel School. My company specialises in supplying hospitality establishments in and around South Africa, as well as internationally.

My advice to anyone who is currently studying or planning on studying would be… ENJOY EVERY MINUTE! Don’t let any opportunities pass you by. Hard work and lots of long hours, but in the end it’s all worth it. From washing dishes in the “pot wash” to opening 5 star hotels and finally running your own company… What more could one wish for!

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Zanele Zwane
Executive Housekeeper at Spier Hotel in Stellenbosch

Where are you from? And where are you living now?

Am from Durban but now live in Cape Town.

How old are you?

I’m 29 years old.

Tell us about yourself

I’m a passionate person, I love my job and pride myself in all that I do. As young as I am,I have the position that I have right now because of hard work and dedication. Nothing in life comes easy.

Where did you study?

I studied at IHS Durban campus

What year did you graduate?

I graduated in 2005.

What did you study?

I studied Hospitality Management.

Where are you now in your career? Where do you work? How long have you been working there?

I’m Executive Housekeeper at Spier Hotel in Stellenbosch as of January 2014 until present. Before that I was working at the Oyster Box Hotel as a Senior Executive Housekeeper for four years.

When and where did your passion for hospitality begin?

My passion started when I was on-board the Seabourn Legend for three years. The best years of my career.

Where do you see yourself in 2, 5, and 10 years’ time?

During the next four years, I just want to perfect my new role and thereafter look into becoming a Rooms Division Manager.

Has working in the hospitality industry been different from how you imagined?

It’s been everything I thought it would be and more. I love it.

Any advice for young people considering hospitality?

You have to have the love and the passion for people. And pleasing people should come easy.

What is your motto in life?

Balance work and play…You will be happy both at work and in your social life.

What has been your most memorable moment working in the hospitality industry?

Working on-board the Seabourn Legend, traveling the world, meeting people from all over the world, learning different cultures.

How has the International Hotel School helped you in advancing your career in the industry?

The interview process for Seabourn Legend was through IHS so I will forever be grateful.

Fezile Khumalo
Banqueting and Conferencing Co-ordinator, Crowne Plaza

Where are you from? And where are you living now?

am from a small rural town in Zululand known as Nongoma. I live in Johannesburg now because of work.

How old are you?

I am 24 years old.

Tell us about yourself

I am a young, intelligent black woman. I am a free spirit with a bubbly personality. I always aim to achieve more than the average person and I’m proud to say that I did well at IHS throughout my years and I am now excelling at work and currently doing my Bcom Degree in Business Management as well and aiming to get my MBA after doing my Honors of course as I want to focus on the business aspect of hospitality. I’m in the process of starting an educational campaign that will aim to push people to do better than what they know and realise that they have a responsibility greater than themselves, which is to help other people while helping themselves in the process. I am passionate about people and I love to do good for others. I guess that would explain why I chose hospitality as a career.

Where did you study?

I studied at the International Hotel School – Westville Campus

What year did you graduate?

I graduated 2013.

What did you study?

I studied Hospitality Management.

Where are you now in your career? Where do you work? How long have you been working there?

I am currently a Banqueting and Conferencing Co-ordinator with the world renowned brand-Crowne Plaza at Rosebank Johannesburg. I have been working for the company for seven months now and I am hoping it will open up international opportunities for me as it is an international brand that is linked to other IHG brands worldwide.

When and where did your passion for hospitality begin?

It honestly truly began when I was at the Ritz Carlton in Naples America for my internship. Prior to that I was just doing it for the travelling. This is when the industry actually started making sense to me because everything was done right and by the book, which is what we were taught at school (IHS) as it is an American syllabus. I brought back home that knowledge and it has since inspired me to change the way hospitality in South Africa is perceived and operated. Who knows, I could just start up my own hotel brand – the sky is the limit in hospitality.

Where do you see yourself in 2, 5, and 10 years’ time?

That’s a good question. In the next 2.5 years I plan to be practicing strategic business skills with the head office of a well-known hotel brand that will allow me to forecast revenues, occupancy and other crucial factors that will contribute to making the business profitable. In 10 years time I will be a founder and CEO of my own companies that will not only create jobs, but will empower the people working for it and contribute to the national economy. I will also probably be serving on numerous boards for commercial giants as a business analyst.

Has working in the hospitality industry been different from how you imagined?

Yes it has been very different. I used to think it was a glamorous industry – the wine and fine dining, the travelling and making international friends. I soon learned that you get those benefits particularly if you are a guest and not the employee. I learned it was about giving the guest the experience that they will not forget.

Any advice for young people considering hospitality?

Yes, young people considering hospitality should try shadowing someone in different departments over holidays as this will definitely give them more knowledge from a first-hand point of view as opposed to a high level point of view.

What is your motto in life?

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better” – Dr Maya Angelou.

What has been your most memorable moment working in the hospitality industry?

My most memorable moment was definitely in the United States when I met and served the Speaker of House – John Boener, who is second in the US presidential line of succession.

How has the International Hotel School helped you in advancing your career in the industry?

It’s internationally recognised and it’s way above other hospitality schools in South Africa so most employers prefer IHS students and graduates.

Michela McDonald
Head Duty Manager, The Belaire Suites Hotel

After my traineeship at the International Hotel School ended, I travelled for six months around Europe. When I got back to South Africa I was approached to be the General Manager of a restaurant that had just opened in Haartbeespoort Dam. The owners, who had just bought the restaurant, had no previous history in the hospitality industry and they had approached the International Hotel School for possible candidates who they would recommend to help them get started. I was honored to get the call.

After a year of getting the Haven Restaurant running smoothly and well on its way to success, I was approached by the Belaire Suites Hotel for the Head Duty Manager position. I was very excited about a new challenge and immediately said yes and am currently employed as Head Duty Manager at the Belaire Suites Hotel.

When I think back to my traineeship, I remember the fun I had as a trainee with both my peers and my teachers, but I also remember the hard times of overcoming challenges and the long hours that went into it. If there was one piece of advice that i would give to future trainees it is this:

Yes you will encounter tough times and yes, you will want to quit the coarse you have chosen a few times but, if you work hard and push through the tough times I guarantee that on graduation night you will feel your own accomplishments and you will have a better understanding of the opportunities that await you in the future. The International Hotel School has given me fantastic opportunities and pushed me to better myself even years after I had finished my traineeship and for that I will always be grateful.

Natalie van Wijk
Assistant Revenue Manager, Sun International

I studied towards a Higher Diploma in Hospitality Management with a specialisation in Rooms Division and Food and Beverage at the International Hotel School. My current position is Assistant Revenue Manager for Sun International. Key responsibilities include hotel revenue management, distribution of rates and availability to various channels, training of systems, policies and procedures and supporting daily operations.

Don’t expect to walk into a management role as soon as you leave IHS. Take some time to work yourself up the ranks as people will have more respect for you if they know where you’ve come from and the experience you’ve gained along the way. If you have an opportunity to work overseas, do it! Not only is the experience invaluable, but you get to see the world and meet people and friends that you would otherwise never have known (and this all while doing what you love). I won’t lie: this industry is tough, but the good days and benefits definitely outweigh all the bad days. Good luck and have fun!

Samantha Marais
Assessor, The International Hotel School

Work experience: Worked on the Queen Elizabeth 2, ocean liner as a stewardess. Worked at the Protea Balalaika Hotel as a receptionist and guest relations. Started my career at the International Hotel School as a sales consultant and then moved into the traineeship department as an assessor.

Funniest industry story: Dealing with oversees travellers, seeing the disappointment on their faces when they realise there are no lions or monkeys roaming around as pets in the hotel.

Advice for students: Work hard, play hard and never give up when the road seems to never end as your dream is waiting for you at the end of the road.

Theresa Lichkus
Lecturer at the International Hotel School, Durban

In the middle of my second contract, cruising the Baltic with new or current seafaring guests, an experience would change my perspective on seafood for life. Upon returning from one of the many ports, one delightful Chinese family felt unusually generous in sharing a truly unique tip-a sealed whole eel; that had been purchased off-shore. I, gawking from surprise, accepted said gift with such grace, you would have thought it was my largest tip to date.

Placing this rather large sea creature in my trolley, I had an outrageous idea. I would celebrate my gift with my hard-working corridor mate – Sandra. A spirited Swedish lass, who had become my dear friend, would become the first person to meet my tip.

Quietly and joyously I called for her. Sandra took a brief moment from fluffing the bedroom pillows, to answer. I took my packaged gift and held it concealed behind my back and crept into the guest’s empty room to meet her. As I walked through the doorway, I gauged where she was and decided in that moment to show the eel. Within seconds, Sandra’s eyes met with the eels and it was not love at first sight. She lunged from the bedroom out the main door with such lightening speed. I, being a caring friend, followed her, eel in hand, laughing uncontrollably.

I dare say she has forgiven me for this episode.

Always do your best. Never be afraid to ask for help, even if it means practicing five times to get the task completed on the acceptable standard. Those who show that they are keen to learn and are prepared to put in the effort reap the rewards. The recommended words ” How can I help?” are golden.

Even if you have those rotten days, there will be an equally good, or potentially better day ahead to look forward to. Hospitality is tough, but one of the most rewarding jobs

Shiristi Mangroo
Demi Chef de Partie

I work at a restaurant in Dubai, it’s called Claw Crab Shack. My position is a Demi Chef de Partie. It’s the most amazing experience I have ever had. Lots of hard work and not much sleep but I wouldn’t trade this for anything. My advice for the young chefs would be that if they have the passion and drive then anything is possible. I never thought I would be 8 000km away from my home and family but it’s the best decision I have ever made. Thank you.

Vimbainashe Chinhara
Currently studying for the Bachelor of Business Administration in Hospitality at Northwood University.

Where are you from originally?

Harare, Zimbabwe.

How long did you study at IHS Sandton?

3 years from July 2009 to June 2012

What did you study at IHS?

Hospitality Management

Why did you decide to travel to Switzerland?

I wanted to further my studies in an environment that has been recognised in the industry for being the home of hospitality

How long have you been in Switzerland for?

A year and a half

What was the process you went through to get there?

I used an agency in Harare called Koala Education Services, they assisted with the school application as well as the Visa application process. For the school application I had a letter from IHS confirming I was enrolled at the school and I provided school transcripts. The Visa application required more documentation and it took some time before it was approved.

How long did you study at Hotel Institute Montreux?

I have been at HIM for a year and a half, however I spent 6 months interning at Holiday Inn Harare.

How did studying at Hotel Institute Montreux differ from studying at IHS?

It is a bit more challenging with more assignments requiring more research and working within a team. Some subjects are not hospitality centred but rather aim at developing leadership and managerial skills and enhancing conceptual skills regardless of the industry.

What are you doing now in your career?

I am pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration in Hospitality degree with Northwood University at Hotel Institute Montreux.

How has your experience been in Switzerland thus far?

It’s been a great experience. The environment is a bit more diverse and relatively conservative. Switzerland is also conveniently located close to major European countries. The school at times facilitates trips within Switzerland.

Why did you specifically choose to work in the hospitality industry?

Hospitality allows me to work with people and meet people from different cultures and backgrounds. Initially I thought there was a lot of travelling involved but the industry qualifications can apply almost anywhere.

What do you feel has been your greatest achievement so far? Any other highlights?

I think my achievements are ahead of me but I am a proud honors roll student with 3 honors from American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute which I attained whilst studying at IHS, I also graduated my Swiss Higher Diploma with honors.

When and where did your passion for the this type of industry begin?

When I was young I enjoyed organising small themed family dinners like welcome parties and such stuff, I found gratification in making people happy and satisfied. At some point with little kitchen experience I had about 2 weeks of being responsible for the meals at home, I would use cook books and make my own improvised ingredients and recipes and I always loved the compliments. I think that its back then I developed a passion for service even though I had not yet decided to be in hospitality.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

I’m hoping that in 10 years with proper financing I will have my own establishment either in events, lodging or dining.

Has working in this industry been different from how you imagined?

Yes, in a good way. I thought there would be less challenges, but I love certain challenges especially conflict handling or problem solving. My communication skills have been challenged more often than ever in situations where I communicate with guests, colleagues and management.

Any advice for young people considering this particular industry?

Hospitality is a people industry serving people, it is hardly the industry for individualists. It however has so many disciplines and with a hospitality diploma or degree there are more areas to choose from if you are good at and love numbers there is finance, if you enjoy the people side of business there is HR, Front Office, Sales etc. The industry is dynamic and most schools prepare you for most of these areas rather than focusing on one discipline for one qualification.

Lauren Spencer
Digital Content Marketer

What year did you graduate?

Graduated in 1998 – Summa Cum Laude and Student of the Year.

What did you study?

Studied three year traineeship in Hospitality Management

Any advice for young people considering hospitality?

Never underestimate your grounding at IHS. It teaches you how to communicate with all sorts of people (and cultures) and it teaches you how to build relationships. The hard work, combined with the opportunity to travel opens so many doors. I’ve lived, worked or travelled to so many places all over the world. There are many opportunities to grow both in the hospitality industry and out of this industry when you have solid management teachings and a firm understanding of all things hospitality. I have worked in hotel operations, sales and marketing and my training has always been an anchor for any job that I have tackled. When you get the basics right from the beginning, the world is a canvas and you can take your career as far as you can dream.

And to the students who think I was possibly a nerd because of my good marks… let me tell you! We worked double shifts and split shifts regularly. We still had time to live it up, party hard, study and have a life. Hard work never killed anyone. If you want to have the good marks and a chance to party, just work hard man. It’s that simple. Good luck – this is the most awesome start to your career.

Raquel Carey
Housekeeping Staff, Oceana Cruises

So glad I could share a few moments with other IHS students. I’d like to say I’ve seen a lot of places in a short space of one year. I’m currently employed by Oceania Cruises as housekeeping hotel staff and I’ve learned so much. I believe that any one can do anything you put your mind to. If you have the passion for service, food, wine and simply putting other people’s needs ahead of your own it starts there. Hospitality is your heart and if you have a passion for it you can do great things.

With the courses at IHS you leave with more than a diploma; you leave with an amazing experience, friendships, knowledge. My wish for all the students is think out the box. Don’t let where you come from or where you stay ever limit you from seeing the world.

Daniel Lombard
Medical Journal Publisher, London

I studied a Hotel Management Diploma at the International Hotel School and graduated in 1998. I am currently working for Elsevier in London. Elsevier is a medical journal publisher. I am working as a Business Analyst within the finance transformation team.

My advice for IHS students is to set yourself a long-term life goal, even though it might look unachievable from far away, work at it in small parts and it will at least bring you closer to your dream. One of my goals was to live abroad. IHS was one of the tools I used to help me get here. There are lots of opportunities in the world (especially after you qualify), try to grab them with both hands and see everything you do as an opportunity. Throughout my career, I had some pretty shocking jobs (and bosses). However, my focus was gaining experience and knowledge, which prepared me to become a sought-after consultant. Seth Godin put the words very clearly : “Life without fear doesn’t last very long – you’ll be run over by a bus (or a boss) before you know it. The fearless person, on the other hand, sees the world as it is (fear included) and then makes smart (and brave) decisions.”

Being part of IHS already sets you apart from most people in the workplace. Working in the hospitality industry means your interpersonal skills are well developed and you are able to interact on a level that peers might still need to get used to. Use your skills to your advantage, it will set you apart from the rest. IHS is a great place to start!