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The value of hard work and the importance of education

by Tia

Recently appointed lecturer at The IIE School of Hospitality & Service Management’s Rosebank campus, Hlumela Ntebe, says her greatest inspiration has always been her grandmother who taught her the value of hard work and the importance of education.

“It was never in doubt that I would end up in the educational sector as a lecturer,” she says.

Now a Sandton resident, the 30-year old Ntebe was born and raised in East London, in the Eastern Cape and primarily lived with her maternal grandmother and her brother for most of her life while growing up.

“My grandmother taught me to value people and to be kind and respectful, but most importantly, she instilled in me the value of getting an education. She was a prime example of that herself, graduating with a Masters in Nursing Management when she was already in her late fifties.”

Ntebe attended an all-girls school where her time was spent between academics, sports and her favourite cultural activities, drama and debating. After matriculating in 2012, she enrolled for a Bachelor of Commerce in International Hospitality Management.

“My journey after my undergraduate degree started at the Hilton Hotel, in Sandton where I worked as an intern, job shadowing in all the departments until I eventually fell in love with the events and banqueting departments. While working at the Hilton, I was enrolled in their International Graduate Programme, a rigorous and tough path towards a management position within the hotel. As a result, I had the privilege of travelling and being permanently employed with the Hilton as well as the opportunity to work for Tourvest Destination Management as a travel consultant and later travel specialist.”

Ntebe also furthered her studies, with an Honours degree in Business Administration from the University of the Witwatersrand and is currently in the process of completing her Masters. It was while studying towards her honours that Ntebe was offered a role at The IIE’s Rosebank College in Braamfontein as an events management lecturer. Her portfolio soon included travel and tourism. She remained in this position for nearly five years, honing her lecturing, interpersonal and presentation skills.

“Early this year I applied for a position to be a business management and hospitality management lecturer at The IIE School of Hospitality and Service Management in Rosebank and was overjoyed when I secured the role.

Having had time to settle in at the school, Ntebe was more than happy to answer a few questions.

What content is covered in your course and what advice do you give students?

Mostly hospitality-related content with the incorporation of management subjects such as business management, marketing management, accounting and financial management. We want to equip our students with the necessary theory and skills to become exceptional service managers in the hospitality industry – both locally and internationally. I advise the students to determine the kind of career they want and to be sure about it, as a career in the hospitality industry needs someone who has patience, understanding, compassion and is not afraid of hard work. I tell my students to focus on their studies and find part-time opportunities so that they can get work experience while studying, as it will elevate them in their careers.

What advice do you have for anyone wanting a career in the hospitality industry?

They need to be sure of their “why” as that is what keeps you anchored even when you feel you want to quit. They should also do as much research as possible, so they know where their interests lie within the industry. Lastly, to make sure they have a passport as there are always so many opportunities to travel in the industry.

What do you think are the key qualifications that hotels are looking for in the staff they hire today?

Hotels now want staff to have at least a diploma or a degree in Hospitality or Tourism Management.

What makes for good service?

Professionalism, compassion, patience, efficiency, personalisation, empathy, reliability and communication

What are the key attributes of a good hospitalian?

Someone with diligence and precision in their work; someone who is able to anticipate a guest’s needs; someone with great communication skills; someone who has a positive attitude and is a team player; and someone who has great problem-solving skills.

How important is it to combine academics with practical experience to make students fully prepared for the labour market?

Extremely important. Hospitality companies are looking to hire individuals who have an academic background. However, it is important for students to engage in the labour market for practical work experience as a combination of academics and practical experience is what is needed in the industry. It is important that students get into the labour market so that once they have completed their studies they are well prepared for life in the real world.

How do you inspire your students?

I implore them to work hard and be patient for the things they want in life. I also get them to see that everyone, no matter their background, can achieve their dreams.

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