October 2019: Hard work, passion and energy are the ingredients that have taken Thuthukile Moloto from her position as debtors’ clerk to the general manager of the newly opened, 205-roomed Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! by Marriott Durban uMhlanga Ridge, in only 10 years.

The hotel was rebranded in July and employs 150 associates on various levels.

Born in KwaMashu, north of Durban, Thuthukile was raised by her late grandmother, a strong woman who was her role model.

“It was an exciting time, growing up in 1994 during the birth of democracy. There were so many different people who taught me about life,” Thuthukile recalls.

“My grandmother always encouraged me. She taught me that it doesn’t matter where you come from or what your upbringing is, if you put your mind to something you can succeed. I think she would be proud to see where I am today.”

Growing up in a township helped shape Thuthukile into the woman she is today.

She moved to Johannesburg to live with her late mother and stepfather. Here she was fortunate to receive the guidance of another strong woman, her mother.

“My mother always encouraged me to stand on my own and to fight against all odds. She taught me not to underestimate my influence,” adds Thuthukile.

Today, she lives by the life philosophy “Build, grow and excel in the uncharted”. It’s a philosophy that blends well with the brand she represents.

“We have a culture of exceeding our guests’ expectations and seeing them happy when they leave the property,” she says.

Earlier this year, Thuthukile was tasked with rebranding the previous Protea Hotel by Marriott Durban uMhlanga Ridge to a Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! by Marriott Durban uMhlanga Ridge property in her position of general manager. With the hotel now under the Fire&Ice! brand, Thuthukile was able to create a new, fresh identity and personality for the property. The rebrand also offered the opportunity for the hotel to expand, create new jobs, offer associates the opportunity to be promoted and upskilled and the exciting opportunity to cater to a new type of guest.

Thuthukile’s appointment came after only a decade in the Protea family, which she joined in 2007 as an Accelerate In-Service graduate. She started her career at the Marriott International’s African Pride Melrose Arch Autograph Collection.

But the Umhlanga Ridge property is not the first opening project she has worked on. In 2010 Thuthukile was part of the team who opened the Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! by Marriott Melrose Arch as Front Office Supervisor, before being promoted to Marketing Manager and later Rooms Divisions Manager. In 2015 she was part of the team to open Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! Menlyn Pretoria in her role as Rooms Divisions Manager.

With a clear aptitude for the hospitality industry, it wasn’t long before Thuthukile was promoted to senior management. She was appointed as General Manager at Protea Hotel by Marriott Karridene Beach, where she flourished

For her dedication, Thuthukile was awarded the Rookie of the Year award at the Annual general managers’ conference this year.

Being a natural hard worker has been the key that unlocked her success in the company: As a woman, she has had to work twice as hard as her male counterparts to be recognised, Thuthukile explains.

But her gender also brings strengths to her role, as “women are very analytical and pay attention to detail”, Thuthukile says, and the industry holds promise for other women.

The tourism industry is one of the biggest contributing and fastest growing industries in our economy. This impacts positively on hospitality. And with this fast-paced development, there is an increasing number of opportunities for women to grow.”

“Marriott International has a priority focus on gender equality in the workplace, especially when it comes to more achieving a fair balance of women representation in senior management positions,” says Anjali Mehra, Marriott International’s Senior Director of Communications middle East and Africa.

“Thuthukile’s stellar career trajectory, rising from a Debtors Clerk to General Manager in 10 short years, sets a wonderful example for all our women associates and shows that the only limits we have are the ones we impose on ourselves.”