Zoleka Skweyiya is Sun International’s group manager for communications and customer insights. Image: Supplied.
Zoleka Skweyiya is Sun International’s group manager for communications and customer insights. Image: Supplied.
Zoleka Skweyiya is Sun International’s group manager for communications and customer insights. Image: Supplied.
Zoleka Skweyiya is Sun International’s group manager for communications and customer insights. Image: Supplied.
Zoleka Skweyiya is Sun International’s group manager for communications and customer insights. Image: Supplied.
Zoleka Skweyiya is Sun International’s group manager for communications and customer insights. Image: Supplied.
JOHANNESBURG - Communications  guru Zoleka Skweyiya switched careers and used her strong corporate background as a springboard to venture into the hospitality industry.

The 48-year old MBA graduate from the UCT Graduate School of Business says her love for travelling drove her switch into the industry following years in multinational financial services firms.

“I decided that I wanted to go into the lifestyle industry,” Skweyiya says, adding that the 2008 global financial crisis forced her to think long and hard about what she really was passionate about.

Skweyiya, who describes herself as friendly, confident and determined, had an impressive career that included stints as corporate affairs manager for Old Mutual in London and public affairs officer for Citibank in Africa.

Skweyiya says she eventually found peace in the hospitality industry.

Zoleka Skweyiya is Sun International’s group manager for communications and customer insights. Image: Supplied.
“It’s a personality-driven type of industry in that you have to like people.”  

“What is great about this business is that our product is experiential. Customers create great memories at our properties and for me, the reward lies in the positive feedback and stories they share with us afterwards.”

Her love for adventure has seen her climbing Mount Aconcagua in Argentina, the second highest of the Seven Summits.  Skweyiya has also travelled extensively, taking a sabbatical between July 2008 to February 2009, to see Ghana and France.

On her return, she was appointed by JSE-listed hotel and casino group Sun International as group manager for communications and customer insights in 2017.

She has been with the Sandton-headquartered company in Johannesburg for the past five years.

Skweyiya, whose favourite city abroad is Rome, says she decided to use what she describes as “my strong corporate background” to venture into the lifestyle industry after the global economic meltdown of 2008.

“It’s been a rollercoaster ride,” she easily admits. She says the hospitality industry is exciting and extremely challenging because no two days are the same.

“It’s a personality driven type of industry in that you have to like people.”  

“What is great about this business is that our product is experiential. Customers create great memories at our properties and for me, the reward lies in the positive feedback and stories they share with us afterwards.”

Her love for adventure has seen her climbing Mount Aconcagua in Argentina, the second highest of the Seven Summits.

In March, she went to the base camp on Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak. “Mount Everest felt like a good challenge to myself,” she says, adding that she has also toured India because of its “rich culture and history”. Skweyiya says she would like to play a pivotal role in her company by improving the customer experience.

Zoleka Skweyiya is Sun International’s group manager for communications and customer insights. Image: Supplied.
“People don’t come in a handy one-size-fits-all package. Delivering a better customer experience requires gaining deeper insight into each of our customers and their needs, and to adapt behaviours where necessary. Flexibility and empathy is key to working in a people industry,” she says.

Skweyiya, who has also had a stint at Nedbank as head of marketing for retail internal communications and events, and at leisure travel agency Pentravel as its marketing manager, says women should continually explore their careers.

“Just follow your dreams until you find the thing you are good at,” she says. “When you do, success will come naturally and it won't feel like work at all.”

- BUSINESS REPORT