The Birchwood Hotel & OR Tambo Conference Centre relies on a team of people to ensure its success, and in that team sits our Director of Operations, Chantelle Hibberd. Chantelle joined us 17 years ago as a receptionist and dutifully worked her way up; holding down positions along the way, such as Front Office Manager, Rooms Division Manager, Assistant General Manager and Financial Manager. She currently sits on our board and ensures that our operations and finance departments are running smoothly.
We grabbed a few minutes out of Chantelle’s very busy schedule for chat over coffee at the BC Café to find out more about the person behind the position.
- Are you married and do you have any children?
Chantelle: “I am married with the sweetest seven-year old girl and two step children who are known as my “bonus kids”.”
- What is your favourite meal?
Chantelle: “I love Italian food but mostly pasta. Good wine is also an important factor to my perfect meal.”
- What book(s) are you currently reading?
Chantelle: “Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One.”
- What did you do this Women’s Day?
Chantelle: “I had a simple, South African braai with my family.”
- What does Women’s Month mean to you?
Chantelle: “It reminds me of the women who fought for democracy in our country, but also that there are still too many places in the world where women’s rights are not respected. We are very privileged in South Africa and have come so far in this respect. Seeing strong women create change in their focus areas inspires me to focus on my passion areas and to make a difference in my circle of influence.”
- What is your favourite thing about the hotel?
Chantelle: “My colleagues. Work takes up such a large part of my life and I am grateful to have such a wonderful team of people around me every day.”
- What have you loved most about working at Birchwood?
Chantelle: “Over the years, I have had the pleasure of leading different departments in Birchwood which has given me a great platform to develop my career and obtain exposure to various elements of the hotel – particularly operations, human resources and finance. Each area of the business has different needs and I have been able to learn so much from each department.”
- What do you like to do in your spare time?
Chantelle: “Six years ago I decided to do a second degree through UNISA, so in recent years this has taken most of my free time. I have just finished studying in July so it has been an exciting few weeks from that perspective. Other than that, family time is very important to me. Simple things like going to gym together, visiting family restaurants or friends is what most of our weekends are made up of. Music energizes my soul so I love to always have something playing in the background. I also do Scrapbooking to relax.”
- What advice would you give working women who would like to advance their careers?
Chantelle: “Do not be afraid to take opportunities which cross your path. There are many things that are easy to achieve, which can have a direct impact, if you are trying to advance your career. Have passion and energy for what you do. Always show a positive attitude, even when you’re in a tricky situation or have to criticise. Learn all the time; through formal platforms, through your own mistakes, by observing your surroundings, and through achievements or mistakes of others – don’t stop learning. Consider your options carefully when making decisions, as every decision you make is yours to live with.”