• Monday, April 22, 2024
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International Women’s Day: Meet top female executives in Nigerian hospitality industry

International Women’s Day: Meet top female executives in Nigerian hospitality industry

Rita Opiah:

In 2007, visitors at Victoria Crown Plaza in Victoria Island, Lagos, were enthralled not just by the facilities and services at the newly opened hotel, but by the ever-smiling face and personal touch Rita Opiah brought to bear in her work.

Then, as a receptionist, the young and amiable Rita was part of the attractions in the hotel as most visitors fell for her service delivery charm, while complaints, even from the uncompromising guests, were resolved swiftly when she is involved.

As the saying goes, ‘the young shall grow’, and Rita has grown. From a humble beginning as a receptionist at Victoria Crown Plaza, she has grown to successfully deliver on management and executive roles in many hotels and is now the general manager of Park Inn by Radisson Serviced Apartments, Victoria Island, Lagos.

The unique thing about the feat is that she is the first female Nigerian general manager of Radisson Hotel Group in Nigeria and most probably, the first female Nigerian general manager of an international branded hotel in Nigeria.

Today, Rita has nearly two decades of experience in the hospitality industry and is a hospitality veteran in her own right.

Trailing her journey in the hospitality industry, she started her career in 2007 with Victoria Crown Plaza, she progressed to Protea Hotel in 2009, where she further honed her skills.

Of course, her hard work was recognized, leading to her swift upward movement across the ranks. While in Protea, she was promoted severally from the reservation department to sales and marketing as manager. Rita was effective in her sales role, leading marketing efforts for the hotel within a competitive and expanding market.

Her career progress also saw her engaged in a leading role at the Marriott Hotels, and further consolidating on the role as deputy general manager at Bon Hotels.

As anticipated, with her years of service, she is an asset to her employers, especially the Park Inn by Radisson brand, a brand she is promoting with full commitment and service.

As the general manager, she oversees daily operations and executive management of her team at Park Inn by Radisson Serviced Apartments, Victoria Island, Lagos. She supervises over 100 employees and has seen the successful execution of a multi-million-naira upgrade of the hotel.

Her hotel is now Lagos’ premier business hub property, with well-appointed 56 rooms including lovely suites, a swimming pool, an event hall, meeting rooms, restaurant with a bar, among others.

In his testimony on TripAdvisor, an impressed guest noted that Rita’s humility speaks volumes as you will hardly know she is the general manager because she will always lend a hand in helping a guest, fix a thing or get things working seamlessly among her team.

Moreover, her feats in the industry have been receiving recognition and awards.

She has received many awards in that respect. Last year, she won the Africa Travel 100 Women Award, which recognises exceptional women in the travel and tourism sector.

Rita holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and a master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Lagos.

Read also: ‘How women can thrive in male-dominated industries

Ubong Nseobot:

Since her debut in the hospitality industry about two decades ago at Hotel Bellissimo by Chevron Lekki, Lagos, Ubong Nseobot, has grown to become an Amazon in not just the Nigerian hospitality sector, but across Africa.

Her diligence to service at Bellissimo where she spent her first three years in the industry was soon rewarded when the Protea brand, now Bon Hotel Group, spotted her and poached her from the Lekki Lagos-based hotel.

At Protea, she served in various capacities including sales executive and was recognized by the Protea Group for executing her job diligently with an impeccable level of dedication towards growing the brand coupled with her incredible level of alignment with the hospitality and tourism stakeholders to the point that her name, “Ubong” became a force to reckon with within the Nigerian and South African Travel/Tourism industry.

But while the Protea Group was still holding her in high esteem, Southern Sun Hotel Group poached her to join its team for the opening of Southern Sun Ikoyi Hotel in 2009. That was after putting in a highly commendable 6 years at Protea Hotel; a move the Protea Hotel did everything to stop then, but Ubong had to go as her capacity to deliver kept growing day by day.

Since joining Southern Sun, which was later branded as Tsogo Sun and now Movenpick Hotel, she has grown to become the Sales and Marketing manager of the hotel as well as brand ambassador of the brand in West Africa as the only woman in its management team.

Having taken on higher responsibilities for the brand across the continent, in brand positioning, product development and expansion across the African continent, the amiable Ubong is a hospitality Amazon in her own right.

She is not new to higher callings and is ready for one anytime and anywhere as long as it is hospitality; her passion for life.

Currently, she is among the leading lights at Movenpick Hotel Ikoyi, where she serves at the senior management level.

Of course, she was equipped earlier for her calling with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mass Communications at Lagos State University.

Her passion for the hospitality industry has earned her recognitions including the Top 100 Women in Tourism in Africa.

Read also: IWD: Here’re 10 women to watch out for in 2024

Salome Danjuma:

Salome Danjuma is a Swiss-trained visionary leader with over a decade of experience, she currently serves as the Food and Beverage Manager at The Wheatbaker.

With a proven track record of orchestrating exceptional culinary experiences and overseeing F&B operations with precision, her commitment to advancing the standards of excellence in the hospitality industry is evident.

Her strategic leadership at The Wheatbaker exemplifies dedication and innovation, significantly contributing to the success of this esteemed establishment.
She is also a passionate promoter of Nigerian food and culture, showcasing innovations like Pedro’s Ogogoro and Agbalumo Mojitos, bringing a delightful fusion to the dining experience.

Ada Matthews:

Ada Matthews stands as a trailblazer in the Nigerian hospitality industry. Born and raised in Nigeria, Ada’s journey in hospitality began in Accra, Ghana, after completing both her Associate of Science degree from Houston Community College and her bachelor’s degree from Ashesi University in Ghana.

Her early immersion in hospitality took root in the Land Tours Team, where she embarked on her professional odyssey. Through diligence and passion, she ascended to the role of Group Corporate Marketing Manager for Land Tours and Avis Ghana.

Ada’s impactful career in Nigeria began with her role in the Sales Team that contributed significantly to the grand opening of the Lagos Continental Hotel, then referred to as the Intercontinental Hotel Lagos. Her hands-on involvement in the project underscored her commitment to excellence, setting new standards in the ever-thriving Lagos hospitality scene.

Following her success at Lagos Continental Hotel, Ada played a key role in the pre-opening executive team of Radisson Blu Hotel Ikeja, at the time known as Renaissance Hotel Ikeja which at the time was part of the Marriott brand.

She played a pivotal role in shaping the early success of this renowned establishment, solidifying her position as a leader in the hospitality industry.

In recognition of her outstanding contributions, she was honoured with the 2021 Pyne Awards – Sales and Marketing Manager of the Year, a testament to her dedication, leadership, and impact on the Nigerian hospitality landscape.

She currently serves as Director of Sales and Marketing at Glocient Hospitality, a subsidiary of Cavitas Holdings, who are the operators of the Ikogosi Warm Springs Resort and Conference Center, Ekiti State.

Beyond her professional endeavours, she serves as the Country Representative to her Alma Mater, Ashesi University.

As the hospitality industry celebrates International Women’s Day, Ada emerges as a symbol of empowerment for women in the hospitality sector. Her journey, often unknown to many, encapsulates resilience, dedication, and an unwavering commitment to excellence. Ada’s story is not just about personal achievement; it is a testament to the strength and capability of women in the ever-evolving world of business.

Jade Dawn Phillips:

Jade Dawn Phillips is a South African Wellness professional, who is currently living and working in Nigeria as the spa manager at Amani Spa and Wellness, Radisson Blu Hotel Ikeja, Lagos. She oversees the day-to-day running of the spa, amid a passion for wellness and involvement in the health and wellness investments of the spa clients.

Jade has over 10 years of experience with some of the world’s leading wellness centres including Amani Spa Lagos and is part of the opening team for the spa.

Jade holds an International Diploma in Holistic Massage and a Professional Make-Up Artistry from Cape Peninsula University of Technology, as well as an NQF Level 4 from Sage Training Academy.

She strongly believes that it is gratifying to work in a dynamic environment where the emphasis is on providing sterling services to guests, promoting their best health interests and has proven that across the UAE, Kuwait, South Africa and currently in Nigeria.