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Women in Business: Meet Pretoria's Naomi Bhuda

Introducing Naomi Bhuda, the Regional Sales Manager (Inland) at ANEW Hotels & Resorts, a shining example of female leadership and passion in the accommodation industry.

With a humble upbringing in rural South Africa, Naomi's journey to success was marked by determination and resilience, overcoming challenges and seizing opportunities along the way.

As Women's Day holds great significance for celebrating the achievements of women, Naomi emphasises the importance of believing in oneself, striving for excellence, and never underestimating one's abilities. Her deep passion for sales and hospitality has been the driving force behind her exceptional career, inspiring her to excel in a predominantly male-dominated environment and even fixing a director's car within a tight deadline, showcasing her dedication to delivering excellent results.

As she continues to expand her leadership role, Naomi's aspirations include empowering aspiring women in business through mentorship and networking, leaving behind a legacy of inspiration and support for future generations. With her focus on collaboration and nurturing talent, Naomi Bhuda aims to be remembered as a trailblazer who shattered glass ceilings and opened doors for women to thrive in the South African accommodation, hospitality, and tourism industry.

This Women's Month, we shine a light on a remarkable Woman in Business: NAOMI BHUDA.

~ Women's Day and Career Aspirations

As a successful woman in a leadership role, how do you perceive the significance of Women's Day, and what message would you like to convey to other women aspiring to excel in their careers?

Naomi: Women's Day holds great importance in South Africa as it celebrates the achievements and contributions of women. Personally, I find it incredibly motivating to see women being promoted and taking on leadership roles in their organisations. Women are now more empowered and can balance their work-related responsibilities with managing households. My message to other women aspiring to excel in their careers is to believe in themselves and seize every opportunity that comes their way. Strive for excellence, be passionate about what you do, and never underestimate your abilities. Background and career path You came from a humble background and faced various challenges throughout your career. How did your upbringing and early experiences shape your determination and drive to succeed?

Naomi: My upbringing in the rural parts of Mathula Stands, Limpopo, provided me with a strong foundation and instilled in me the values of independence and determination from an early age. Being raised by a hardworking mother, a domestic worker, taught me the importance of hard work and resilience. It motivated me to dream big and overcome any obstacles that came my way. I carry those values with me in every aspect of my life and career.

My mother instilled in me a sense of independence and supported me in whatever I needed. After moving to Mpumalanga for high school, I initially aimed to become an air hostess but didn't have the financial means to pursue it. Instead, I trained as a paramedic and later found a job in a call centre. From there, I embarked on a journey of continuous learning and growth, taking on various roles in sales and account management. It is through these experiences and the opportunities I seized that I shaped my career.

~ Pursuing Sales and Management

What inspired you to pursue a career in sales and (now) management within the accommodation industry?

Naomi: It all starts with passion. If you don't love your job, it becomes challenging to excel in it. I've always had a deep passion for sales and the hospitality industry, and that's what drove me to pursue a career in this field. Even when facing challenges, my passion kept me motivated and helped me transform obstacles into opportunities for learning and growth. The combination of my love for sales and the desire to work in an industry where I could interact with different people and address their needs led me here.

~ Overcoming Challenges

What were some of the challenges you faced early on in your career, and how did you overcome them? Naomi: Early in my career, one of the significant challenges I faced was a lack of computer literacy. When I joined Imperial Chauffeur Service, I didn't know how to use a computer, but I didn't let that hold me back, and I didn’t tell anyone. Instead, I saw it as an opportunity to learn on the job. I spent the first week of my induction and training just observing and teaching myself how to use the computer system. The team thought they were upskilling me on the system, but I was learning during this time, and observing how to type and how to use a computer. In that one week I quickly learned on the job. And through this mindset of continually learning and upskilling myself daily, I worked hard and became an expert, eventually making 160 bookings per day. This experience taught me that passion plays a crucial role in overcoming challenges. It's essential to pursue something you love and have a genuine interest in, as that passion will drive you to excel and become an expert in your field. If you don’t have passion, a job will just be a job and you won’t excel at it.

~ Turning Points and Milestones

Can you share a significant turning point or milestone in your career that helped shape your success?

Naomi: One of the turning points in my career was when I joined Imperial Chauffeur Service. Despite my lack of experience, the company saw potential in me and offered me an opportunity. This trust from the company and the support of key clients, such as City Bank, who specifically requested my involvement, motivated me to excel. Another milestone was when I became a Sales Executive of the Year, which was a testimony to my hard work and dedication. These moments validated my abilities and encouraged me to continue pushing myself. Another significant milestone was when I joined the Fortis Hotels group (now ANEW Hotels & Resorts), a company highly regarded in the industry. This allowed me to expand my skills and take on new regions, leading to further growth and success. Overall, these turning points and milestones have shaped my journey and reinforced the importance of seizing opportunities, believing in myself, and delivering exceptional service to clients.

During your time at Renew It Sandton, you managed to excel in a role that required knowledge of the motoring industry, despite having no prior experience. How did you adapt to the challenges, and what strategies did you employ to succeed in a predominantly male-dominated environment?

Naomi: Joining Renew It Sandton was a significant learning curve for me, as I had no prior knowledge of the motoring industry. To adapt, I immersed myself in the work, asked questions, and sought guidance from my colleagues. I focused on building relationships and establishing trust with both customers and trade connections. By consistently delivering exceptional customer service and showcasing my competence and professionalism, I gained recognition within the predominantly male team. This experience taught me the importance of adaptability, resilience, and the value of building strong professional relationships. Your dedication and exceptional service were rewarded when you fixed a director's car within a tight deadline. How did you approach the task ensure its timely completion? What did this experience teach you about the importance of delivering excellent results?

Naomi: When presented with the challenge of fixing a director's car within a very tight deadline, I approached it with confidence and a determination to exceed expectations. I indicated from the start that it was a very tight deadline (under-promising) and promised to do what I could. However, my dedication to my work, keeping “tabs” on what is happening and following diligently through with the status and progression of this task (over-delivering) led to incredible success. I coordinated with the insurance and parts departments, ensuring the prompt procurement of necessary components. Through effective communication and careful planning, I successfully completed the task within the stipulated time frame. This experience reinforced the importance of delivering excellent results, as it not only impressed the director but also highlighted the impact exceptional service can have on client relationships and professional reputation.

~ Work-Life Balance and Daily Routine

How do you manage your day and balance your work-life commitments?

Naomi: Balancing work and personal life are crucial to maintaining overall well-being. To manage my day effectively, I prioritise tasks based on their urgency and importance. I start each day by setting clear goals and creating a to-do list. This helps me stay organised and focused. I also believe in the power of delegation and teamwork. By entrusting responsibilities to capable team members and collaborating with them, we achieve better outcomes collectively, and it better equips them to have confidence in their abilities.

To maintain a work-life balance, I prioritise self-care and allocate time for activities that recharge me. This includes spending quality time with my loved daughter, pursuing hobbies (I love red wine and travelling to different countries and meeting interesting new people), and engaging in physical exercise. Setting boundaries and learning to say no when necessary are also important in maintaining a healthy work-life balance for me.

~ Future Hopes and Aspirations

What are your future hopes and aspirations in your career?

Naomi: My primary goal is to continue expanding my leadership role within the accommodation industry, taking on increasingly challenging responsibilities that allow me to make a substantial impact. I aspire to be a mentor and advocate for aspiring women in business, leveraging my experience and expertise to create more opportunities for their growth and success. Through potential mentorship programmes and networking events, I aim to empower women to embrace their potential, believe in themselves, and seize every opportunity that comes their way.

Finally, what legacy do you hope to leave behind?

Naomi: My ultimate aim is to leave a lasting legacy by inspiring others and making a positive difference in their lives. Professionally, I want to be known as someone who pushed boundaries, shattered glass ceilings and paved the way for other women to succeed in the sales and South African accommodation, hospitality and tourism industry. I aim to be remembered as a leader who prioritised collaboration, nurtured talent, and created a supportive environment for personal and professional growth. Personally, I hope to inspire individuals in my team to embrace their passions, overcome adversity, and recognise their own potential to achieve greatness.

Naomi Bhuda stands as a true testament to the power of determination, passion, and embracing one's potential. From her humble beginnings to her current role as a formidable force in the accommodation industry, Naomi's journey exemplifies the strength of the human spirit in overcoming obstacles and achieving greatness.

As she continues to inspire and empower others, Naomi's legacy will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on the landscape of female leadership, serving as a beacon of hope and encouragement for women aspiring to excel in their careers.

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