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‘Staff training is something we take very serious at Southern Sun Ikoyi’


Cornelius Onwah

Transitioning from cost focused human resource services to experience focused HR, leading business and leisure hotel, Southern Sun Ikoyi, continues in its value adding perspective by improving the experience level of its employees. In this interview, the hotel’s Human Resources Manager Cornelius Onwah, spoke on the importance of translating business quality management thinking into actionable steps, by investing in the development of the employees.
Last year was a very active year for Southern Sun Ikoyi, could you recall some of the learning activities for employees at the hotel?
Staff training is one aspect of human resource development that the group takes very seriously and this has been demonstrated over the years through the learning interventions engaged upon by management. The group (Tsogo Sun) has a full-fledged Training Academy located in Johannesburg in South Africa and the responsibility of the Academy, apart from setting the standard for the learning culture of the entire group, ensures that skills are enhanced to meet the ever changing needs of the modern business traveler across the globe.

In recognition of same, management trained the entire contingent of the frontline staff comprising the front office and F&B department to a one-week ‘First Impressions customer service training.’ This training was so well received by the generality of the staff that other departments are in the process of receiving same opportunity. Also, all the supervisors in the hotel were again exposed to a three-day intensive training session on Effective Leadership.


Your industry is one prone to health and safety hazards, how are you dealing with the challenges in these areas?
Yes, our industry is indeed prone to daily health and safety hazards and we know that we cannot truly redefine customer experience on our premises if we do not first equip our employees with the adequate know how. Health and safety is taken very seriously at Southern Sun Ikoyi and our staff from all departments are regularly trained all through the year on Basic First Aid, CPR and AED training to help the generality of staff in the event of emergencies. First Aiders at our hotel are retrained and recertified every two years to enable utmost functionality in their capabilities. Our food and beverage department particularly received further training for an additional two-weeks on this. We also know that imparting knowledge is a skill and so, trainers at the hotel are also frequently trained in dedicated trainer courses for efficiency.

The hotel has been in Nigeria for almost 10 years now, what contributions have you made to elevate customer service delivery?
Our knack for training is second to none and our reputation is revered within the industry in Nigeria. Over the years, Southern Sun Ikoyi has collaborated with catering departments in various vocational and hospitality management schools and centers across the state and the entire country, viably and strategically contributing to the training and development of necessary skills and manpower required for sustainable growth in the industry.

This is also particularly done through the placement of students from the various schools and centers for their Student Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) training and Industrial training at the hotel. In line with our discussion so far on development activities for our internal staff, Bitrus John, a Chef in our Kitchen, who has only just returned from a one-year training program at the Christina Martin Culinary School Art Studio in George, South Africa, can give a firsthand account of the impact of the training he has received thus far. 

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