No ceiling for women in corporate world: Mandela

October 15, 2021

TINASHE MAKICHI

Hospitality group, Cresta Hotels Group managing director, Chipo Mandela, believes there is nothing holding back women from taking leadership positions in the corporate world as long as they “prove their worth and take advantage of opportunities that awaits them”.

“I am a firm believer that there are no ceilings for women in business and in the 21st century,” the executive told Business Times.

She added: “It is up to women to not only prove their worth but to also take advantage of the opportunities that await them.

“Travel and tourism is not, in fact, a male dominated sector, and there are many amazing women in positions of leadership around the world within the sector, which speaks well of the sector and its ability to value the worth and contribution of women throughout the sector, including in positions of leadership.”

Mandela, who holds an MBA from the Management College of Southern Africa and is also a chartered certifified accountant, was appointed country director for Cresta Zimbabwe operations in 2018, following the resignation of Glenn Stutchbury, who left the group after a six-year term as the chief executive officer.

She is also a fellow of the Institute of Administration and Commerce in Zimbabwe and also a chartered director at the Institute of Corporate Directors Zimbabwe.

Mandela was elevated to the position of managing director last year.

Previously, she also worked in various capacities within Cresta operations in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia and Botswana.

After taking over as head of Cresta Hotels in Zimbabwe, Mandela steered the ship, making the hospitality group one of the market leaders.

“I foresee a continued levelling of the playing field and I know that women will not just play a role but make a major contribution to the growth and development of the travel and tourism sector,” Mandela said.

She said her role is to position Cresta as a brand of choice in the tourism and hospitality industry.

“As head of Cresta Hotels, my role is to position Cresta Hotels as the preferred accommodation host for visitors to Zimbabwe, as well as increase the group’s business within the region. I have won a number of accolades in the industry,” Mandela said.

Since taking over as head of Cresta Hotels in Zimbabwe, she has been instrumental in the refurbishment of all the group’s assets to ensure that they are of the high standard that is expected by the modern business and leisure traveller.

This multi-million-dollar exercise has positioned the group’s hotels as market leaders in the three-star and four-star market, with targets including business travellers, leisure travellers, conference and

banqueting clients and the member of the public who appreciates the group’s range of services and amenities for social and business interaction.

The executive said she has also engineered a strategy around the development of the group’s Zimbabwe team so that they meet expectations of these travellers, and the group has also continuously looked at ways of innovating so that Cresta is a leader in the hospitality sector and not merely a follower of trends.

Tis has led to the creation and development of the Cresta Catering unit, which stands alone as an operational structure within the organisation.

Despite the achievements recorded so far, Mandela however bemoans the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic on the hospitality business which has seen various travel restrictions being put in place to curb the pandemic across the globe.

“Of course, the past year-and a-half has been dominated by the onslaught of the Covid-19 crisis and all that has entailed for travel and tourism.

“Our goal has been to safeguard and stabilise the business in the face of this massive threat and ensure it is ready and waiting to respond to the recovery of the sector, which is inevitable even if it is not easy to predict just when this will be.

“I am proud to say that Cresta remains a force to reckon with and it is our hope that we can remain strong in our field and then seize all the many opportunities that will come our way in coming months and years. It is my sincere belief that the future is bright and our patience and fortitude during this time will be richly rewarded,” Mandela said.

She said the Covid crisis has made “us realise that leadership is about understanding everything around us, both current and to come, and making sure that an organisation is not just responsive to what happens, but is ready where possible to meet any and all challenges”.

“Decisions taken may not always be easy to make, but the only way forward is to take decisive action where and when necessary to preserve, conserve, stabilise and make ready an organisation. We can and must thrive in chaos and we can and must be flexible in the face of the ever-changing status quo,” the executive said.

Mandela noted that Cresta Group of Hotels has been a remarkable example of how to achieve all of that and be ready for a brighter future.

In her spare time, she is an avid reader of business and leadership books and is keen to one day explore the game of golf.

Mandela draws inspiration from Arianna Huffington whom she describes as a transformational leader who focuses on developing subordinates into leaders by unlocking their personal potential.

The executive is inspired by global business tycoon Warren Buffet whom she described as an astute investor who believes in working with highly motivated, capable managers whom he allows full autonomy.

She sits on several boards, including the Public Accountants and Auditors Board Zimbabwe, chairing the audit committee, and the Institute of Administration and Commerce Zimbabwe Chapter.

Te executive is also a Governor of Lomagundi Group of Schools.

In a parting shot, Mandela said: “I am grateful to our whole team for the way they have responded to this (Covid-19 pandemic) crisis and for the support they have given me as team leader.”

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