Meet Hospitality Management Graduate, 23yr old Obakeng Kgadile, who recently celebrated her 3rd year of working at the MalaMala Game Reserve located in Mpumalanga. This pristine private game reserve is one of the oldest and largest game reserves in South Africa. In addition to that, it has over 50 years of game viewing experience. Tourists from across the globe travel to this game reserve, so that they can get front row seats to some of Africa’s greatest wild animals.
Obakeng spent her first two years at the MalaMala working in reception, this allowed for her to be in guest-facing areas and experience the game drives. She was able to see the wildlife through the guests’ eyes. “The experience that I had gained from my Work Integrated Learning, which I had completed in various corporate hotels, helped me prepare for my role at MalaMala Game Reserve. I can honestly say that from the time I arrived up until now I have given 110% dedication to my craft,” says Obakeng. “Trust me, there were days when I thought it wasn’t worth it and there were days when I wanted to give up. Those days come from the exhaustion of working 42 days non-stop and only having 14 days to rest”, explains Obakeng. “Remember when your parents use to say there is always light at the end of the tunnel? Well, I am the pure example of that, but if you put in the hard work and the dedication towards your career it definitely pays off! Once you remember why you chose this career, and the opportunity that you have been given, then everything else (the long hours, aching feet etc.) becomes background noise,” concludes Obakeng.
While working at reception Obakeng began to grow curious about the other positions and areas within the reserve that she could possibly work in. Ultimately, she wanted to position herself in an area within the reserve whereby she would be able to interact with the guests more, and provide a service that would not only be beneficial to the game reserve, but it would also fulfill her passion for the hospitality industry.
Fast forward three years and Obakeng is now the Front House Manager of the newly renovated Sable Camp at MalaMala Game Reserve. This is a phenomenal achievement, which she has worked extremely hard to achieve. International Hotel School provided Obakeng with a platform to discover who she was, what she was capable of and most importantly what she had to offer the industry.
Her Advice for young people considering hospitality as a career:
“Hospitality has been misrepresented over the years. It has been represented as an industry where you serve and belong to someone, which is not true. Hospitality is a warm smile, a gentle hello and learning from people’s experiences. It is not a traditional career at all. The hours, the work the entire effort that goes into providing an exceptional service requires a person who is very willing and dedicated to their work, and most of all believes in what they do and why they are doing it. My advice would be for you to find your own little spot in the world, the world of hospitality is wide and comes in many different forms. Find your spot and make it yours, and in that way you will never work a day in your life.”