International Women’s Day is observed on March 8th each year, but for Retail Revenue Manager at Sandals Grande Antigua Maria Jeffery, Spa Manager Kafi Samuels and Training and Development Manager Matara Murphy, women’s day is year-round.
On March 8th, the trio joined the world in raising a hand to recognise women’s achievements and also to “challenge and call out gender bias and inequality.”
To this day, they remain focused on that mandate. These leaders are hoping to serve as a source of inspiration to other females who may be interested in pursuing careers in hospitality.
“I want to be of motivation to females who aspire to a career in the hospitality industry,” Jeffery said. “Notwithstanding the pandemic, females should aspire to do what they want to do.”
The retail revenue manager adds, “Over the past few years, more focus has been placed on women in the workplace and recognising their contribution to the workplace. Even now and in the coming years, you will see more women in leadership roles.”
Jeffery began working with Sandals resorts as a supervisor in the Resort Shop at Sandals Grande Antigua in 2007. She was also supervisor at Sandals Royal Barbados and was promoted to assistant manager of the Resort Shop there in 2013. By 2015, she was again promoted to retail revenue manager and was sent to head the Resort Shop in Sandals Grenada.
The retail revenue manager also did a stint at Sandals Royal Bahamian and then returned to Sandals Royal Barbados and won the Manager of the Year in Retail award across all Sandals resorts in 2016. By 2018, she returned to Antigua and has been working here as one of the revenue managers ever since.
She advises females to aim high and not to become discouraged by obstacles. As a manager of a team of ten employees during tough times, Jeffery says she hopes to continue to play her role not only as a manager, but also as a mentor.
Like Jeffery, Samuels continues to motivate her team of 28 to excel.
“Since I started at Sandals Antigua, my goal has always been for my team to perform in the top three of all Sandals resorts and we’ve been able to attain that at least three times,” she says. “It is great to know that I work with a company that encourages you, regardless of your gender, to reach your goals.”
Samuels began working as the training and development manager at Grande Pineapple Resort in 2016 when that resort was owned by the Sandals group of companies. Prior to working with Sandals, Samuels had experience working in a spa. When a position opened in the spa in Sandals Regency La Toc in St. Lucia, she was transferred and worked as the assistant spa manager there.
Having gained the experience in St. Lucia working as the assistant spa manager, she then accepted an offer to be the spa manager here at Sandals Grande Antigua in 2019.
Meanwhile, as manager of training and development, Murphy explains how she motivates employees, particularly females, to reach their professional goals.
“Whenever I plan my training sessions on resort, I try as much as possible to lead by example and to use real-life examples/scenarios to bring across the information I am relaying,” she says.
“It is always heart-warming to see team members who have passed through the training sessions receive awards and promotions.”
Murphy climbed the organizational ladder at Sandals resorts, starting her career as a concierge agent, to becoming an assistant training and development manager and then being promoted to the training and development manager position. Her accolades include Young Hotelier of the Year 2016 from the Antigua & Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association and a National Youth Award in 2017 for Tourism Manager of the Year.
“To the females in Antigua & Barbuda who are interested in pursuing careers in the hospitality industry, it is important for you to know that growth is possible,” she says. “My experience throughout the past 14 years with Sandals teaches me that females can make significant achievements within the sector.”
Murphy adds, “When you look at Sandals Grande Antigua, there are more females in management positions than males. I applaud the company for ensuring opportunities continue to be present for women to grow and advance and hold leadership positions.”
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