Often candidates tell me that they do not want to work in Africa. Well, the answer I always give is “But, you do”
Some South African hoteliers think that we live on a separate continent. But the good news is, billions of years ago, when the land was known as Pangaea, we were not selected for continental drift. In today’s tough economic times it’s not a bad thing that America separated itself from us and floated away somewhat to the West.
Although the hotel business in Africa has been affected by the worldwide recession it is still developing at a fast pace. So let’s be happy that we live in Africa.
Here is a list of companies that are serious about their hotel brands in Africa. Sheraton, Rezidor, Tsogo Sun, Protea, Hyatt, intercontinental, Conrad In fact it’s a who’s who of the industry. So those complaining that there are not enough opportunities in South Africa there is a whole continent of opportunity in the rest of Africa.
I hear of great new projects in Nigeria, Mozambique, Angola, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Kenya. The hotel industry in Zimbabwe is also starting to show some fresh shoots. As the Worlds interest in Africa as a business destination grows the demand for quality hotel rooms increases with it.
In my experience there is demand for middle to senior management as well as Chefs from Sous Chef to Exec Chef. The packages are pretty much commensurate with what an individual would earn in South Africa but with benefits such as accommodation, medical insurance, airfares and often company transport.
Does it take a special kind of manager to work in Africa? I think the emphasis would be on strong people management, development, and training. As well as excellent negotiation skills, along with a canny ability to handle more difficult logistics and supply chains. It goes without saying that a manager needs to understand cultural diversity and sensitivity. But if you are from Mzanzi this should be second nature eh?
Global Hotel companies are not the only ones investing in Africa. Along with mining and other infrastructure development generates opportunities for Catering and facilities management businesses. So there are some pretty good jobs for catering managers. Though conditions are tough in site catering and, I believe, this kind of work is not for the faint hearted. Though the payoff is that these companies remunerate quite well indeed.
Generally contracts for major hotel and hospitality businesses in other parts of Africa would be for an initial two year period. Work permits require a lot of paperwork, medical examinations, verification of qualifications, police clearance, credit checks. This can make the process of employment long. So a prospective employee needs to ensure that resignation from current employment only takes place when the work permit is granted. This should be discussed up front with the new employer. Sometimes work permits are turned down so do not resign too early in the process.
The traditional South African need to “go overseas” to work is as strong a magnet as ever. The problem is, due to larger levels of unemployment in the UK, The States, Europe and Australia, South Africans are not any longer in high demand. My advice is, if you want to boost your career, consider employment opportunities up North.