Samantha Croft is the first female Director of Operations for Tsogo Sun’s KwaZulu-Natal Hotels. Picture: Supplied.

Samantha Croft, the first female Director of Operations for Tsogo Sun’s KwaZulu-Natal Hotels, takes over the reins of Mike Jackson. Clinton Moodley speaks to her about her new role.

What will be your first order of business when you step into Mr Jackson's shoes?  I want to make the transition for the region as seamless as possible.

How did you get into this profession? I started out as an in-service trainee straight from high school, and slowly worked my way up to where I am now.

What do you think is KZN's greatest asset and how do you hope to maximise on that? We are fortunate to have the bush, mountain and beach, all within a few hours drive. I want to make our guests aware of all the attractions in our province to get the message out there.

What is your vision going into this new role? Probably to continue what I have always done – grow people and hope I can add value to the leaders within our region.

What are your thoughts about the role of women in the hotel industry and what do you think should be done? Women add value to our industry. Things have changed in the last few years.  There are more women in senior leadership positions, and that is exciting to know.

What is your favourite holiday destination and why? Seychelles. I can unwind with my books and not have to talk to anybody. I love Praslin island and spend most of my time there. The ocean is perfect for snorkelling. Travellers should also make time for day trips to La Digue, which is famous for cycling around the island.

Tell us about a day in your life?  I start my day as early as 3.15 am.  I use the morning to catch up on exercise and gym. I am usually in the office by 7 am.  I make sure that I address any issues that may have arose the night before. I then go through the daily arrivals list,  walk around the property before catching up on some admin. As no two days are the same, there is no pattern.

Who is your role model and why? I have had a few role models during my career. One of them was the former Rooms Division Manager at the Protea Hof Hotel in Pretoria, Jacqui Elliott. She is now the CEO of the Liz McGrath Hotel Collection. Over the years I have had the honour of working for many professional and highly respected hoteliers.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?  To continue adding value to the hospitality industry.

How do you unwind? I love to read, spend time in the sun and on the beach. I also love beach runs, food and wine.

What quote do you live by? "You do not have to win every battle to win the war – choose wisely”.

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