Female general managers are still a comparative rarity in the hotel industry, but Shamini Pather, GM of The Royal Palm Hotel in Umhlanga, is convinced they have the ability to do the job and warns with a smile that they could even take over the grip on the big jobs held by men.
Recently appointed GM of the hotel on Palm Boulevard, Pather, who began her career as a receptionist, is excited about both her new position and the hotel’s potential. “It’s a beautiful hotel – I want to get the name out there!”
With 94 apartments, The Royal Palm Hotel is part of a development that includes hotel accommodation, a restaurant, conference facilities, corporate offices, retail space and underground parking.
Pather has over 10 years experience in the hospitality and leisure industry with the Three Cities Group. She studied hotel management after completing high school. “I was influenced by my brother who is five years my senior and absolutely loved his work in the hospitality industry.”
She began work as a receptionist at a Three Cities property and thereafter rose through the ranks as a guest relations officer and then as the guest relations manager. Positions as a rooms division manager and resident manager soon followed. Finally, Pather hit the top of the ladder when she was appointed GM of The Riverside Hotel and Spa between Durban and Umhlanga.
She feels her loyalty to the Three Cities Group has been rewarded. “I am so thankful to Three Cities for believing in me. The company invested time and money in my development and it’s a wonderful position to be in.”
She is proud to be part of the exclusive minority of female general managers. “Women are taking over in this industry”, she enthuses, “so unlike before, when we were expected to stay home to look after the family. We bring the much-needed feminine touch to the hotel industry.”
Pather favours the open-door policy when it comes to management. She believes in listening to her staff and their suggestions. “I am very straight-forward, decisions need to be a team effort so I try to get the staff’s buy-in as much as possible.
In my opinion, the most difficult aspect of being a GM is caring for the staff. People management and staff motivation are of the utmost importance. With a little bit of innovation and forethought, everyone in this industry, from the porters to the upper echelons of management, all have significant contributions to make and no one should ever be overlooked.”
She has the following advice for those wanting to study hospitality and follow in her footsteps one day. “Do some research. You need to have a clear understanding of what you are getting yourself into. Balance is important and always be prepared for the unexpected.”