A hotel manager who studied Travel and Tourism at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) has called for more women to be given top jobs in the industry.
Jael Akyeampong is General Manager of the RB Park-Hill Hotel in Ghana, the country where she was born and grew up before coming to the UK when she was 19.
She is also a Director of the African Association of Women in Tourism and Hospitality (AAWTH) and was named Most Admired Female Hospitality Professional in the Hospitality Awards Ghana 2021.
According to travel and tourism consultants Aptamind, women represent half of all employees across the sector but only 19 per cent are in senior management roles and just five of the top 100 firms globally have a female CEO.
Jael said: “Most of the leadership roles in the travel and hospitality industry are occupied by men. There are some women in management but too few are getting the top positions. That is something we need to put right.
“The AAWTH looks to give more women the opportunity to work in more senior roles by working with the industry to provide internships and offer more coaching and mentoring. Women have a lot to offer and can bring a new perspective to the boardroom. We need more female role models to look up to, who can support and usher more women into the business.
“I am very proud that I’ve been able to build my career and acquire a high level of leadership, but the sector needs to open up more opportunities for women to show what they can do. There’s a lot of progress that still needs to be made.”
Jael studied Travel and Tourism at CONEL in 2013-14 where she undertook a work placement at the five-star JW Marriott Grosvenor House London hotel in Park Lane, which later helped her to secure a position at the Accra Marriott Hotel in Ghana.
“My time at CONEL really inspired me a lot, especially the internship, tours and support. We would do presentations and share what we’d learnt in class, and our teachers would give us coaching sessions and career guidance,” she said.
“I always looked forward to my classes because I had great tutors who would listen, acknowledge the fact that we wanted to learn more and gave us the opportunity to express ourselves. It was a great experience. What I learnt at CONEL really helped me with my career.”
Jael returned to Ghana in 2017 after a spell working as a Travel Consultant for Xstream Travel. She began working for Deeva Travel in Accra before landing a customer service role at the Accra Marriott Hotel where she was later promoted to a supervisory position.
She went on to study online for a Diploma in Tourism Management with the Confederation of Tourism and Hospitality accredited by the University of Derby, before topping it up to a BA (Hons) International Hospitality Business Management.
Jael was appointed Front Office Manager at the RB Park-Hill Hotel in 2019 and promoted to her current role of General Manager last year. Recently she has started running her own travel agency for newlyweds, The Haven Honeymoon Concierge, alongside her main job.
“The travel and hospitality industry is gradually picking up after COVID, and people are travelling and staying in hotels again and there are jobs out there,” said Jael.
“It’s a really exciting and enjoyable career because you get to meet many different people from all over the world. It’s very hands on and you’re often working long hours, but it’s worth it.
“I love to serve people and put a smile on their faces. What makes me really happy is when a guest gives a nice review about their stay. It gives me a great sense of fulfilment knowing I offered a great service to somebody.”