Maropeng’s business partners bid farewell to outgoing MD
There were few dry eyes in the house as Maropeng’s suppliers bid farewell to the outgoing MD of the world-renowned visitor centre of the Cradle of Humankind, Tony Rubin, on Wednesday.
Rubin steps down at the end of October, after being at the helm of the business for over seven years, to take up a position with SAB World of Beer.
The centre held a farewell lunch at the luxury Maropeng Boutique Hotel to allow business partners who have worked with Rubin for years to wish him the best for the future.
Perhaps the most moving speech at the event came from a member of Rubin’s own team, Maropeng Boutique Hotel manager Peter Mhanaza.
Mhanaza (28) is one of Maropeng’s in-house success stories, rising from a position as cashier to leading the team at the luxury hotel in just seven years. “In the beginning, [Tony] was very mean to me, because I was a bit arrogant. I came in as if I knew everything,” Mhanaza joked.
“But then, as I started learning, you gave me opportunities. I have learnt a lot from you, and I won’t forget you,” Mhanaza told Rubin.
Mhanaza recalled the caring way in which Rubin and his wife responded when he was involved in a car accident in 2012. “They visited me every day in the hospital. It’s something my wife and I will always be grateful for.”
Rubin was also honoured by other businesses in the area for the work he has done in attracting visitors to the Cradle of Humankind. It has become a key tourist attraction and boasts several conference and event venues.
“You are an inspiration to this industry,” said Leon Bosch of the general managers forum for the Cradle area. “We know we’re not really saying goodbye, and we will be hearing more of your valuable insights.”
Rubin himself handled the farewell with the wry sense of humour he’s become known for. “I feel like I have been listening to my eulogy,” he joked.
He recalled his first management meeting at Maropeng. “I walked in there and everyone was so serious! I got a little worried because my management style is a very inclusive one. I don’t manage people, I lead them.”
He recounted the series of awards that Maropeng has received during his tenure, from Best Tourism Attraction at South African Tourism’s Welcome Awards to, most recently, a double win at the national Lilizela Awards for its conferencing facilities and the visitor experience it provides.
He attributes the successes to his management team. “It’s testament to their hard work. They have done everything; I have done very little.”
Rubin also thanked Maropeng’s suppliers, saying many are not only business partners, but have become dear friends. “A contract is not a good one if both parties don’t walk away feeling slightly aggrieved. There has to be a give and take, and partnerships become relationships.”
Rubin has urged the board to consider promoting from within to fill his position. “Someone who knows this site, and the work that we are doing here, will ensure the continued success of Maropeng,” he said.