Leading from the front – Peter Mhanaza does it right

  • September 21, 2012 | Kate Rau

																		Maropeng Hotel Manager Peter Mhanaza

“Peter epitomises what we’re trying to accomplish here at Maropeng,” says Lindsay Marshall, Curator at the Maropeng Visitor Centre. “He’s a local, he has a way of doing things that truly reflects our day-to-day values, and he’s a real role model for so many employees here.”

She’s referring to the newly appointed Maropeng Hotel Manager, Peter Mhanaza, who over the past seven years has moved up the ranks at Maropeng and now heads up the four-star accommodation venue in Gauteng’s Cradle of Humankind World Heritage site.

“Maropeng is my home and my career all in one,” says Peter, who was born and raised in Magaliesberg and grew up with many of the staff members who work at the hotel. He went to school at Maloney’s Eye, a primary school situated in the Cradle of Humankind that is supported by Maropeng’s CSI programme.

																		Peter helps out wherever he can
There are considerable advantages to being a local in this business, he says, since hospitality is about people and places. “I know the area well. Being able to share information confidently about the region and its tourist attractions is a huge benefit when it comes to making meaningful connections with guests,” he adds. Plus he has strong bonds with the people he works with because, in his words “they know me, and I know them”.

How to become a manager – Peter’s winning recipe

This dynamic 26-year-old has worked at Maropeng for seven years; starting out in late 2005 as a cashier in the Visitor Centre ticket office.

“There’s a restaurant that sits just in front of the ticket office. During my lunch break I would help serve tables and after two months I was a competent waiter and cashier,” he says, adding that he’s not the type of person to sit around wasting time when more hands are needed, no matter where.

“I like to learn and I enjoy challenges. I’m the type of person who jumps at the opportunity to do more.”

It helps that Peter is so good with people. “I’m a problem solver first and foremost. When something comes up I focus on the problem, not on the people. I ask what we can do to solve the issue and we can deal with the rest later,” he says.

Clearly it is this enterprising spirit has taken Peter far – from Ticket Office Cashier to Receptionist in 2006, from Assistant Restaurant Manager to Operations Supervisor at Sterkfontein Caves in 2009, and from Assistant Food and Beverage Manager to his current position – Maropeng Hotel Manager.

“I’m proud of myself,” he says confidently. “I’ve grown my career over seven years, and held eight positions.” Plus, since he studied computer programming, he’s the ‘go-to guy’ for all IT-related queries at Maropeng.

The future according to Peter

His plans for the hotel include growing mentorship programmes and securing five-star grading.

																		Peter is proud of his career at Maropeng
Maropeng’s development programme is engineered for junior staff to become supervisors. Peter has been a mentor for the past two years, which has helped him build relationships with his staff and motivate those who also want to grow their careers at Maropeng.

“There are people with a lot of potential who work here. I want to take them through the same steps that I went through, teaching them to take the initiative and become leaders themselves,” he says.

“The key to getting your people involved in what you are doing is for you to do it first. Then you invite them to join you, you pass on the skills and by handing over the responsibility and you make people more and more accountable,” he reveals.

He also wants to manage a five-star hotel with 60% monthly occupancy.

“I’m not going anywhere. I see a great future for me here. My Managing Director, Tony Rubin, knows what I’m capable of and holds me accountable. One day, with his help, I’m going to take over and become the new Managing Director of Maropeng,” he says with a smile.

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