She’s called the capital home for the past 35 years and is known as one of the city’s most prestigious hospitality experts. Waterkloof Ridge’s Ronel Bezuidenhout shares a bit about her journey to the top.
As young woman at the start of her career, Ronel Bezuidenhout wanted a career in the diplomatic corps – to study languages and political science. She originally wanted to be an air hostess and travel the world with SAA, but was too tall.
Her father and other family members were also dead against it as it was at the time not a career for women. After matriculating, she received a bursary to study BA Education at the then Rand Afrikaans University (RAU) in Johannesburg. Yet she soon changed her degree to BA Communication, combined with languages part-time through Unisa.
“I realised that I’d have a better chance of getting a good job if I have workplace skills and worked as a receptionist, translator and public relations officer (PRO).” After a stint as promotions officer at the Republican Press’ Rooi Rose, she joined the Overvaal Resorts (Aventura Resorts) team as PRO. This is where she first got introduced to the hospitality industry. She moved on to work at a hotel group, ventured into owning her own events management company and also managed a food and beverage department of a Pretoria hotel before realising the gap in the hospitality industry, specifically relating to training.
In 2001, she launched the Capital Hotel School (CHS) here in Pretoria after seeing the need for training school leavers in front office, food and beverage and housekeeping principles to provide the industry with qualified operational staff in these departments.
“At that stage there were very few training colleges that offered a similar qualification in Hospitality Management.
“From there CHS launched Professional Cookery (Cheffing), a natural progression, and in 2007 we finally moved into our own premises in Arcadia with fully equipped training kitchens,” Ronel explains. Since the beginning of 2017, CHS have developed and published all their learning material on a blended learning platform to their full-time learners and employed staff in industry and also gone paperless. So what is it about the hospitality industry that makes Ronel so passionate about it?
“I would have to say it is the amazing job opportunities which are available anywhere in the world to qualified people who are passionate about a career in the hospitality industry and have the right attitude,” she says.
And why specifically focus on training?
“The hospitality industry is evolving all the time and therefore employing trained staff and investing in continuous training programmes for staff are critical components to provide a product that is current and provides service excellence to the guest,” she says.
Today, Ronel is the managing director at CHS and is responsible for the daily operations of the company, the development of new projects, training programmes and personnel organisation.
And her biggest challenge?
“To get new vocational courses accredited by the South African authorities. It is very frustrating – if you are lucky, you can accept feedback within 18 months to four years,” she says.
But watch this space. Ronel is always busy with new ideas. We can’t wait.