Hotel manager praises CONEL and calls for more women in top travel and tourism jobs

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.”

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Students’ music show brings festive cheer and presents to disadvantaged children

Big-hearted students put on a music concert to raise funds and donated presents to bring some festive cheer to disadvantaged children this Christmas.

Students at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) organised the show to support The TOY Project and encouraged staff and students to donate toys.

The TOY Project recycles unwanted toys for children in the UK, India, Africa and the Caribbean, and also runs Lego, art and storytelling workshops.

The Islington-based charity was co-founded by Angela Malloch, the wife of former Neighbours star and 1980s pop icon Jason Donovan who is the charity’s patron.

Most of the songs were performed by students completing Music Performance and Production Diplomas at Level 1 and Level 2 at the college’s Tottenham Centre.

Silvia Bortolotti, 25, opened the concert with a cover of Amy Winehouse’s hit Valerie.

Lheyla Esono Engo, 18, and Emil Vasilev, 20, sang a duet of James Smith’s Tell Me That You Love Me, and Sarah Delobette, 19, performed Jess Glynne’s cover of seasonal soul classic This Christmas.

There was also a DJ set by Ramon Pazos, 47, a poem read by Hairdressing student Blessing Anyaegbunam, 28, and a performance by guest singer Maalik Robinson.

There were also performances by Isabel Palma Gomes, 17, and Cathleen Farrell, 38, which included the Christmas carol O Holy Night.

Cathleen said: “Children all around the world are directly affected by social and economic issues and circumstances that bring about poverty. Sadly, many experience a Christmas each year without the gifts and toys that bring us all joy in the festive season.

“We hope that by putting on this concert and making donations to The TOY Project many of them will have a happier Christmas.”

The concert’s finale featured all the singers performing Puerto Rican singer José Feliciano’s 1970 festive hit Feliz Navidad.

The TOY Project helps children in schools, nurseries, hospitals and hospices, those in care or with complex needs, migrants and refugees as well as homeless and other underprivileged families.

Jane Garfield, who founded the charity with Angela in 2013, said: “Thank you to everyone who took part in this fabulous concert raising funds and donating toys to those most in need this Christmas.

“After such difficult times more families than ever are struggling to provide for their children, and being able to give toys to the children lifts the worry and stress over the festive period.

“We are so grateful to have been part of your celebration of music and wish everyone a very merry Christmas.”

Sharon Wallace, Curriculum Manager for Creative Media and Music, said: “It was wonderful seeing and hearing our talented students perform for such a good cause to make Christmas that extra bit special for so many children.”

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Queen's Award for Enterprise