We find out more about the newly appointed general manager of River Meadow Manor in Irene, Pretoria, Johnny Malebo.
Tell me more about your career?
My mother was a waitress and was the family bread winner however she became ill in 2006 and was declared permanently disabled so it fell to me to find a good position and become breadwinner for the family. I started as a waiter at Valley Lodge, a beautiful 4* Hotel in Magaliesberg, in March 2007 I was promoted to a receptionist and shortly after that I left to join Mount Grace Country House and Spa, a 5* hotel in Magaliesberg that is now part of Protea by Marriott Hotels where I quickly rose through the ranks from restaurant manager to Food & Beverage manager. In 2013 Protea arranged for me to study Hospitality Management at University of Johannesburg.
In 2014 I joined Protea Hotel Manor as food and beverage manager working under Mr Siyanda Dlamini as my General Manager. In September 2015 Mr Dlamini moved me to our newly acquired property called Protea Hotel Hunters Rest, I occupied the same position of food and beverage manager, the hotel was struggling that time and I had to go setup systems and operating procedures. I completed my studies after I joined the company, graduated and got my senior certificate in hospitality management with distinction in March 2016. After this I was with Fortis Hotels and Protea Hotel Fire and Ice for a few years.
My career took a fortuitous turn In 2018 when Mr Dlamini asked me to join him in opening his new hotel brand called The Regency Hotels. I left Protea Hotels again and joined him at The Regency Apartment Hotel Menlyn as the Operations Manager, overseeing day to day operations of all departments. To join Mr Dlamini at The Regency Hotels was the best decision as he then made me a general manager a year later in his new property called River Meadow Manor (RMM) in the Irene area which is where I work today, I am having the time of my life working in this property and am relishing the role of GM.
What do you love about your industry?
You cannot just have a career in hospitality industry, it becomes a big part of your life and the way you view the world. To provide hospitality services to clients becomes personal, to develop the careers of your team members and watch their progress also becomes personal. You get to travel a lot and meet new people every day which gives you the opportunity to know different human characters and that is always interesting. You should only join the hospitality industry for the passion you have to serve the world with a smile on your face and a quest for excellence, nothing less.
Tell me more about what you do each day in your role?
In the morning I go through reports from different departments to see if all went well the previous day, I mainly check security, health and safety incidents, feedback from guests, revenue and banking reports. I coach, inspire and train my team every day through our daily conversations and meetings. I work with the team to make sure preparations are done in every department for guest service and maintaining the property for the day. I look at opportunities to build new relationships with our clients through interactions. We work around the mission of the company to achieve our objectives, the main objective is to achieve profitability in the business we run by making sure our guests are satisfied with the level of service we render, we want to make sure our relationship is well maintained and our reputation is first class.
What do you love about being a GM?
You are in the best position make people’s dreams come true, both staff and the guests. You empower your staff and coach them, and you ensure your guests have a memorable experience to share. I also inspire a lot of people in the industry as a young GM which is really important for youth development today.
What advice do you have to others aspiring to your position?
Work hard, love your job, remember your purpose, listen to good advice, set goals for yourself and have a mission on how you will achieve those goals.
When did you join RMM and why did you join RMM? I joined RMM in August 2019, coming here was a dream come true for me, being a general manager was definitely a goal a had to achieve. I came here because my brother and mentor Siyanda Dlamini is the owner of this hotel. My career needs his support and he needs my commitment, loyalty, skills and efforts to make this company a success. I work with my family, and family comes first.
What is your favourite hotel and why?
The Palace of Lost City, it feels like heaven in that hotel and that gives you peace. The view is a stunning and the pools are huge. There is also a lot of activities for a young families, in fact it is the most family friendly resort I know.
Where did you grow up? Where do you live now?
I was raised by my aunt and grandfather in Mathopestard Village, my mother and father lived in the city for work. They came to visit as and when they could. I currently reside in Elardus Park, Pretoria East.
What tertiary qualification/s do you have? A senior certificate in Hospitality Management.
Through what institution did you complete your qualification/s? University of Johannesburg
Tell us about your family and your hobbies?
My family is everything to me. I am married to a strong and beautiful woman who has been by my side for 12 years, her name is Christina Malebo. We met in 2008 at Mount Grace. We got married on the 7th of December 2019. We have 2 gorgeous daughters, Lerato Malebo and Kopano Malebo. The elder one, Lerato is doing Grade 8 and turns 14 years old this year. The younger one Kopano is doing grade R and turning 6 this year. My Family stays in Magaliesberg currently but we are looking at moving to Pretoria or Krugersdorp some time this year so that we can live together.
I only have few hobbies because most of my time I spend at work or resting at home with my family. I enjoy braais with friends. I love to do movies, lunch and dinner with my wife. On the weekends, we visit parks with the kids or try to do a little weekend gateway once in a while. When I am off I spend a lot of my time watching movies or soccer on TV with the aim to relax and be ready for the week ahead at work.