Head Housekeeper celebrates 25 years at Kings Camp

By Kings Camp Team on September 20, 2022
We sat down to chat with Head Housekeeper, Mirriam Mkhatshwa after 25 remarkable years of service. See what she had to say about looking back on her career and the best advice she was ever given - 'gijima!'

25 years is quite an achievement! Was Kings Camp your first job or did you work before you started at the lodge?

Kings Camp was my first job, before I accepted the position, I was doing a pre-school childcare course because I love children & at the time I was considering opening a creche when I had the funds to do so.

What year did you start at Kings, if you can remember that far back!

It was 1997.

How did you get the job?

I found out from a friend who was working at Kings that they were hiring & I told her I was interested so she suggested I send through my CV. I was then contacted by Lisha, who was and still is the manager today! She asked me to come for an interview. The interview went well and I got the job and started the very next day, I didn’t even go home in-between!

What was your first position when you started?

I was mostly working as a housekeeper, however back then all of the staff worked in all departments so although this was my main role I would also work in the bar & dining room often and do what ever was needed.

What do you remember about your first experience of working life?

I had a wonderful housekeeping manager who really mentored me, her name was Laetita and she really motivated me to better myself. At the time I wasn’t sure why she kept telling me to prove myself, I thought maybe I wasn’t doing the job well but then I realized that if I really worked hard I could move forward in my career quickly & she used to always say ‘’Gijima’’ which means ‘’you should run/get moving/be quick’’ in Zulu, so I always had this in my mind and would try and go above and beyond in everything I did & even though I was just a housekeeper I would often do the work of a supervisor & support her which helped me to learn quickly but also get noticed.

How did your career progress while at Kings?

After being in housekeeping I was offer a position by management in the bar, we had people come to give us training & I did this job for about 1,5 years & I then found out that our then head of housekeeping was leaving so I had decided to apply for this, I wrote an application letter but I didn’t get the chance to give it to Warren & Lisha, the managers because they called me in for a meeting & said that they felt I may be able to do the job & asked me if I would be willing to do it for a 3 month trial period to see how it went. I accepted & after just 1,5 months they confirmed I would stay in this role, so I was now the head of housekeeping which is the job I am still in now.

How many staff do you manage?

The most I have managed was 13, it is currently 12 housekeepers that report to me.

There must be too many to count, but what is your happiest memory of being at Kings Camp so far?

Both times I was promoted were really happy memories for me, especially because they had been unexpected & showed me that I was being noticed for my hard work.

I also have a clear memory of being recognized for my work, I can even recall that it was a really hot day. I was working in the bar at the time & our owners were sitting on our viewing deck which overlooks the lodge. I noticed a guest coming from a room who was carrying 2 bags of laundry. I ran over to the guest & asked if I could help them & confirmed that they were taking them to be washed. The guest was really grateful. What I didn’t realize was that our owner was watching me & shortly after this the managers called me to ask if the guest had called me over or if I had seen the guest & gone over myself, so I explained I had assisted her as I saw she needed help & they thanked me on behalf of them & the owner & said that this is the exactly what they needed from the staff.

Do you have any advice for people who are hoping to get promoted?

Always go the extra mile, act on things before you are asked to do them and always try your best and Gijima!

Do you have advice for anyone who would like to start working within the hospitality industry?

This advice is really relevant for any industry but to me its really important to know what you want & to do what you love. So many people only work because they want to get money & although this is important you should do your job because you love it first & foremost.

Why do you love working in the industry?

I love being in the bush, I like the animals & the peace & quiet. I also love meeting people from all over the world.

Thank you, Mirriam to your dedication to Kings Camp & here’s to many more years ahead!

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