New Seychellois resort manager Vanessa Albest: "You start at the bottom to develop skills"
Albest met with President Ramkalawan at State House. (Rassin Vannier, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychellois Vanessa Albest has been appointed resort manager of Mango House Seychelles, LXR Hotels & Resorts, a five-star tourism establishment located in the southern district of Baie-Lazare that belongs to the Hilton Resorts and Hotels Group. She will work alongside the German general manager, Britta Krug.
Albest started her career in 2008 with the Seychelles Tourism Academy and was employed in 2012 with Hilton Silhouette Labriz Resort.
As one of the graduates from Shannon College of Hotel Management, Ireland, who has taken a managerial position, she met with President Wavel Ramkalawan on Thursday, to talk to her about her achievements.
The Seychelles Tourism Academy and Shannon College have a longstanding agreement for the education of tourism professionals, and Albest is the first Shannon graduate who has reached has such a high-level position at a hotel.
SNA met with Albest to learn more about her discussions with the President and her own personal journey.
SNA: Congratulations on your new appointment. Tell us more about your discussions with the President.
VA: The President congratulated me on my career path, and he appreciates the fact that I have raised the Seychelles flag and made Seychelles proud. During our conversation, we talked about putting emphasis on the growth of Seychellois workers in the tourism industry and raising our standards which will bring in more clients since tourism is the pillar of the economy.
SNA: Did you talk about the promotion of Shannon College graduates in the tourism industry?
VA: The President has informed me that there is a batch of students that have just graduated and they are coming back to Seychelles. The government is sending their curriculum vitae (CV) to all the hotels. Where ever there is an opportunity they will be allocated, but bear in mind that it doesn't mean that they will be a manager right away.
SNA: Now for your own personal journey. What caught your interest in the tourism field?
VA: I didn't know what I wanted to do when I finished secondary school, I just went along with the subjects I was good at, I did my A Levels and when I looked at the list of scholarships, all I knew was that I needed to be in a field where I get to work with people. I saw the 'hotellerie" [hotel business] which I was more interested in so I did my research, all of its advantages and disadvantages and I accepted it before I began my journey. When I started my studies at the STA, I was surprised that I actually loved it, so I never looked back. I completed my studies, then I started a career at Hilton, and grew, acquired experience in various countries, in different departments, and today I'm here.
|Albest was the operation manager at Hilton Silhouette Labriz Resort. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY|
SNA: Where else has your journey taken you?
VA: When I left Seychelles in 2018, I went to Hilton Sharjah in Dubai for nine months, I worked as a front office manager in charge of housekeeping. After that I went to Hilton Addis Abba in Ethiopia as an operations manager, this was one of Hilton's biggest hotels in Africa with 372 rooms. I spent two and a half years there. After that I came back to Seychelles, I worked with Hilton Labriz as an operations manager - I did nine months. Now I'm a resort manager at Mango House and I am overseeing the whole hotel operation.
SNA: What message do you have for the young girls who are still choosing their career path?
VA: Tourism is a vocation. You need to be passionate about it, it's not something you do because you don't have a choice, and you will get discouraged and walk away.
In the hotel industry, you will meet angry clients, you need to have patience and determination. There are certain jobs in housekeeping that are tiring physically. You need to be aware of all of that when choosing this career path.
Tourism is an exciting career, once you've made up your mind you need to go with it and do it to the best of your ability because when tourists come to Seychelles, we are the ones serving them, so we have to serve them well so that they come back.
SNA: How was your climb from you where you started to where you are now?
VA: It's not an easy path, you will encounter a lot of challenges but in the end, it's what you want that matters. If you know that you want to become a general manager, then you will have to go through it all, because it will empower you to become good enough to handle anything that comes your way in such a position.
Challenges are there to build you up so that you can become stronger. For example, in my case, I have climbed up the career ladder really fast, and I lacked leadership skills, and that takes time. In the beginning, I struggled, but later on, I got the hang of it.
People must realise that the reason you start at the bottom is for you to develop skills and most importantly leadership skills. You need to work with people at different levels, in order to know how to manage them later. This is the main challenge that any leader faces.
SNA: How do you feel about leading the team at Mango House?
VA: I'm excited and my colleagues too are proud that they now have a Seychellois in higher management. The plan is to work together to raise Mango House to a higher level in terms of engagement, teamwork and clients' standard.