“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight” Prov 3:5-6 NIV
My name is Hazel Gumpo also known as Afia in Ghana meaning Born on Friday. I was born and raised in Zimbabwe in the beautiful ‘City of Kings’ Bulawayo. I am passionate about the Hospitality Industry where I have served in different spheres for the past 25 years. Currently I am the Chief Operating Officer for the Oak Plaza Group of hotels in Ghana, West Africa. I thank God for all the experiences that have led me to this time. They helped mould me into the woman I am today.
My journey went thus. After completing my A’Levels, I had a 3 month industrial attachment stint at a leading hotel in my home town Bulawayo and there my love for the industry was born. My ever supportive parents then facilitated for me to travel to and study in Germany – a privilege I am forever grateful for. I received thorough grounding for my craft there.
Into the cattle kraal
On returning home to Zimbabwe, my first job was with the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge. Unbelievably my first assignment there was to turn around a flailing little outdoor restaurant in the establishment – something that looked to me like a cattle kraal. I was met with broken chairs and tables, smelly old winter blankets, aged waiters – even snakes crawled in occasionally! This was after all a bush resort. What a waste of my European training I thought. I had wanted an opportunity to demonstrate my fish filleting skills, flambé etc, in a 5-star establishment. A far cry from the challenge thrust at me. The frustrations that followed led me to almost give up. I had to come to a place of fully trusting in God and His plan for my life. The testimony from this phase of my life is that the dumpy little place grew to become the award-winning Boma – Place of Eating Restaurant. The must-do meal experience in the resort town.
Over the ensuing years there were many opportunities to grow at the Safari Lodge. I went from Operations Manager to Capacity Building Manager, Deputy General Manager then Acting General Manager.
The post of Head of Capacity Building was the most fulfilling for me because that was the period I could fully share the skills I learnt in Europe. I was privileged to train some of the finest chefs and hotel managers that are now making their mark on the world stage.
The award-winning Victoria Falls Safari Lodge grew to a level of being the envy of many industry peers, both locally and internationally. It was on this backdrop that we started getting requests from other industry players for consultancy. A management company was established with a strong reformation mandate. I had the privilege of being appointed brand ambassador to act in the role of Consultant General Manager for the new properties.
In the fullness of time, I eventually left the Safari Lodge, well-equipped for new adventures. Joining the African Management Services Company was a natural progression. There I carried on my role as a capacity-building General Manager under their UNDP programme seconded to the Oak Plaza Group of Hotels. One of the joys of my West African experience was having the Hotel Association of Ghana award me the Best Capacity Building Manager accolade for 2015 most recently I was acknowledged as one of the Top 100 Influential Tourism Personalities in West Africa by the ECOWAS regional travel fair, Accra Weizo 2017. To God be the glory.
Quality and Excellence
Ultimately, all my achievements are based on a persistent desire to provide quality and excellence in everything I do. Sometimes I drive myself and my family mad because everything must be done with a standard of excellence. This is coupled with an aspiration to create employment in Africa, enhance our standards of living and be a blessing to the nations of the world – a vision that is bigger than self.
Some personal affirmations I live by:
- Prov 22:29 “Our success is hidden in our daily routines” (John Maxwell). I am a woman of excellence. I always ask God to help me do things better and sharpen my skills.
- Job 22:28 “It is not by might nor power but by His spirit. As a Christian I live with the understanding that I am a spiritual being having a human experience” (Pier Teilhard)
- Isaiah 61 “Building people, building dreams “(Tom Deuschle). I am a reformer called to bring about positive change in the lives of people.
- Ex 31:3 “Ability can take you to the top, but it takes character to remain there” (Zig Ziglar). I am filled with the spirit of God anointed for my purpose.
- Eph 4:21-32 “Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result” (Albert Einstein). I am a God-fearing woman, daily seeking to be a better hotelier, friend, sister, daughter and partner.
- Eccles 9:11 “Success happens when preparation meets opportunity. I am designed for accomplishment, engineered for success and endowed with the seed of greatness”. (Zig Ziglar)
- Habakkuk 2:2 “If you refuse to set goals for yourself, others will” (Duncan Williams). I am a goal-driven woman.
- Judges 5:7 “Your response determines your destiny” (Bonnie Deuschle). I am a woman under authority.
- Heb 11:1 “Success occurs when your dreams are bigger than your excuse “(unknown). I am a woman of faith.
- Num 27 Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other women who have her back. I understand the power of healthy synergies. – I have been carried on the shoulders of giants.