Growing up, most people do not know what they want to be career wise. There are those who discover it along the way while others spends their entire life trying to figure out their purpose. But not Jane Tarimo, assistant manager at Lake Duluti Serena Hotel in Arusha.
Ever since she was a little girl, Jane knew she wanted to work in the hospitality industry. Born in the Kilimanjaro region of Northern Tanzania, , Jane grew up seeing large numbers of tourist flock their home area as they sought to explore The Serengeti or climb the tallest mountain in Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro. Through sheer determination and hard work, Jane not only got to work in the hospitality industry, but made history as the first lady ever to be assistant manger in Serena Tanzania. We talked to Jane to learn more on her journey to top.
Tell us a little on your journey in the hospitality industry?
Though i have not had the chance to travel to other parts of the world, I was lucky enough to meet and interact with people from many different cultures and backgrounds thanks to the tourist attractions that are the Serengeti National Park and Mt Kilimanjaro. There began my desire to work in the hospitality industry with the objective of showing the beauty of my beloved Tanzania.
I started off working in housekeeping in the Lodges for 12 years during which I married and started my own family. It was a big challenge, balancing family and work. Working at the lodges meant that I was away from them more than I was with them. But my husband has always been my biggest supporter and took care of everyone while I was away. This allowed to me to focus on my job and it paid off as management recognized my efforts. In 1997, I was sent to Mauritius for my first exposure. On returning I enrolled to the Management Development program in several Serena Units in Kenya. After the training I was appointed as an assistant Manager, becoming the first lady to ever hold that position in Serena Tanzania, a position I hold to this day.
How do you feel working in the hospitality industry has impacted you
Thanks to my position, my communication skills have greatly improved. When you are a leader you need to effectively communicate to your staff so that they understand your vision for the hotel and encourage them to work towards that goal. I like to use the analogy of a rowing team. Do you think a team can win a race if the one giving the paddling instructions isn’t a good communicator? Not really. Be clear and be persuasive.
My job has also changed the way I live my life. Knowing that you’re making a difference in other people’s lives is partly why we chose the hospitality industry. The way you interact with your staff, guests and surrounding will contribute towards you becoming a better person.
What has been your biggest challenge in your position today o
My biggest challenge is finding work-life balance. I love my job and I have been able to achieve so much, but that also means being away from the people I love. Especially as woman, you have to deal with the constant feeling of guilt especially when your child falls sick and you cannot be there for them to nurse then back to health. But I am lucky that I have such loving and supportive family and friends. So while I might be away from, I know they know that it is all for them.
How have you handled or gone about overcoming these challenges
It became important for me to be open minded. I have grown to love and enjoy my nomadic lifestyle.
I also learned that you cannot make it on your own. You need your colleagues from each other if we are to do our jobs well, so I am never afraid to seek advice and share experiences with my colleagues, there is always something to learn by talking to other people. Mostly though, determination and focus have gotten me to where I am today.
Also while many might consider being a woman in a managerial position as a weakness, it is actually strength. A woman is naturally patient and diplomatic; two characters that have helped me overcome many obstacles and avoid clashes with colleagues, partners and suppliers. But working in an industry where men respect women, this rarely ever happens.
As we mark International Women’s day, what is your advice to anyone looking to venture in the Hospitality industry?
Being a woman assistant manager has given me an opportunity to be an inspiration to other women; but I also want them to know that success will not be handed to you just because you are a woman. In my 20 years of service, I have learned to survive, you require a lot of tolerance, serenity and most importantly, hard work and I would encourage women to pursue their desires.