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Against all the odds

Some people allow life’s challenges to derail and hamper their growth. Thuthukile is quite the opposite. Instead, she used the hardships she faced growing up, as her motivation to achieve success. And it paid off.

It is no small feat being tasked with overseeing a brand new 205-room hotel with over 150 staff members. After just 10 years in the hospitality industry, Thuthukile Moloto has worked her way up from debtor’s clerk to now being the general manager of the newly opened Protea Hotel Fire & Ice by Marriot Durban in Umhlanga.

Originally from KwaMashu, Thuthukile grew up in a township under challenging conditions. But her childhood, she believes, helped shape the woman she is today. As did the encouragement she got from her mother and late grandmother. “My grandmother taught me that it doesn’t matter where you come from – if you put your mind to something you can achieve it. I think she would be proud to see where I am today.” Her mother encouraged her to stand on her own and fight against all odds. “She taught me to never underestimate my influence,” says Thuthukile, who is also the mother of an 11-year-old son named Lwandle.

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Her introduction to the hospitality industry was when Thuthukile started working as a banqueting waitress at a hotel in the East Rand of Gauteng when her mother could no longer afford to pay for her tertiary education. Thuthukile applied for a learnership programme in hospitality management through the University of Johannesburg and Protea Hotels by Marriot.
Over the years, the ambitious hotelier has worked her way up the ranks within the Protea Hotel family, being promoted first to front office supervisor, then marketing manager and later rooms division manager.
We asked Thuthukile what she loves most about the hotel industry. “I love interacting with people from all walks of life and pursuing excellence through our service culture. I also love how the industry continues to have a positive effect on our economy, creating various job opportunities for the youth.”

When she is not hard at work, Thuthukile enjoys spending quality time and travelling with her son, learning about different countries and cultures. “I believe that this is very important, as it allows me to connect more easily to international guests who visit my hotel when I understand their culture. Guests respect that.”

Asked what her advice to other young women hoping to achieve success in this industry Thuthukile says, “education beyond high school is extremely important. You have to be passionate about service and people. It is also important to remember that no matter how senior you become in an organization, you constantly need to work at improving yourself and being a step ahead of your male counterparts and competitors.”

Details: Protea Hotel Fire and Ice Umhlanga, 14 Palm Boulevard Umhlanga Ridge, 031 582 6000

Text: Leah Shone

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