From general manager at one of the Protea Hotels at just 25 years old, Siyanda Dlamini (35) is now the co-owner and managing director at The Regency Apartment Hotel in Menlyn, Pretoria. By Kwanele Mathebula
Siyanda Dlamini making his mark in the hospitality industry
I knew from a young age
that I wanted to work in the
hospitality industry. In grade 8, I joined the catering club as an extramural activity while at Alexandra High School in Pietermaritzburg. It catered for the school’s events and hosted a theatre where students and parents could watch a show and dine afterwards. I learnt the basics of catering, and throughout my time at the club, I knew that I wanted to join the sector.
I did my in-service training
at the Protea Hotel training
institute. In 2000 while in matric, I found out about the institute. I wrote to the director, Mary Maguire, telling her that I wanted to join. During my final exams, she arranged for an interview in Durban. It was tough, but my confidence earned me a spot. I started training at various Protea Hotels the following year.
Training was the best
experience. I started at the San Lameer Resort Hotel and Spa in Durban. The people who had been working at the hotel for years taught me everything I needed to know.
For example, while working at reception, I watched how the calls were being transferred. The reception staff noticed, and taught me how to check guests in and out. I went on to work in the finance department, and restaurant where I learnt how things operated. During my second year, I moved to Cape Town to work at the Karridene Hotel. In 2003, I moved on to the Protea Hotel Victoria Junction in Cape Town where I completed my training. I’ve always wanted
to own a hotel. After graduating in 2005, I was offered a deputy head position at The President Hotel in Cape Town. Six months later, I was promoted to head of the department. I worked there for two years until I was 25, when I was headhunted to become general manager at the Protea Hotel Cape Town Tygervalley. I spent three years in that position before moving to the Protea Manor Hotel, and then to the position of sales director at Fortis Hotels, both in Pretoria. As my career progressed, I knew that I wanted more for myself. Fortunately, I had been working on a business plan to open my own hotel. I quit my job, and focused on building the Regency Apartment Hotel; I co-own it.
The Regency is my proudest
achievement. It has been operating for five months, and the experience has been wonderful. The staff is made up of 150 people, 90% under the age of 35. Breaking away from working for other companies has been my biggest highlight.