He has hosted statesmen and presidents, been charged by elephants, encountered a hyena in a resort kitchen and even lists intrepid African adventurer Kingsley Holgate on his CV as a reference - but, for Errard Sullivan, his appointment as principal of the International Hotel School (IHS) provides a whole new challenge.
He's a fourth generation hotelier with a passion for the hospitality industry. Throughout his 35 year long career, he has appreciated the value of a good education and training. Describing himself as a disciplinarian, he says he is "strict but fair" and always goes all out to set a good example.
"I am self-motivated and have a good understanding of much needed professionalism and service excellence in the hospitality industry. I also have a good sense of humour, enjoy networking and am well connected within the hospitality trade in Southern Africa," he says, adding that his business knowledge coupled with his many years in operational hospitality are likely to help both staff and students alike.
He also remembers just what it was like being a trainee. With a diploma in hotel management from the Johannesburg Hotel School, he worked as a trainee at the President Hotel in Bloemfontein, the Townhouse Hotel in Cape Town and the Wilderness Hotel between 1997 and 1998. His list of "positions" is both extensive and diverse - night watchman, potato peeler, floor cleaner, post scrubber, switchboard operator, receptionist, handyman and even a member of the accounts department.
From duty manager to housekeeping
"I have gone from duty manager to parking attendant, from porter's desk to housekeeping. I have found myself in the bottle store on Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings or behind the bar, in guest relations. I have gone from cold kitchen to storeroom, from pastry section to room service."
After working in the industry for some time he changed direction and began working in various game lodges and safari camps in South Africa and Botswana. On his return to South Africa, he worked for Protea Hotels in a number of different regions.
"From 1993 to 2000, I managed a Hotel in Richards Bay under extremely difficult circumstances and was then able to sign up this hotel with The Protea Hotel Group as a franchise operator. I worked for Protea Hotels from 2001 to 2007 as a general manager."
From there, he opened Sulcon, a hospitality and tourism consultancy based in KwaZulu-Natal - which has taken him everywhere from Cape Town to Dar es Salaam! "Since 2008, I have specialised in troubleshooting, relief management and special hotel projects, openings, branding and transitional management situations."
As both a mentor and a leader at the IHS, he knows his role will be extremely varied. However, a number of things are particularly close to his heart. "I would like to decrease the drop-out rate of students and assist students by facilitating permanent positions for them all on completion of their studies," he says.
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