Jevasha Govender, (Jaé) came to New Zealand from South Africa to study when her best friend, who’s currently studying Events Management through correspondence with Southern Institute of Technology (SIT), encouraged her to try SIT.
At the time, Jaé was seeking a change from her work on cruise ships. She had always wanted to study again and was looking at attending a hotel school in Switzerland, but her Auckland-based best friend convinced her to try New Zealand. As she’d been here numerous times on cruise ships, she had an idea of what the country, the people and lifestyle in NZ was like, and thought it very similar to South Africa.
Jaé has worked in the hospitality and tourism industry for around 15 years, and is a very well-travelled individual. She’s had the good fortune to live in five countries, and the privilege to travel to 82 countries, most of which she’s visited whilst working on cruise ships in the past nine years.
Having graduated from her degree in Hotel Management in South Africa in 2009, Jaé then moved to the UK and worked in the hospitality industry, firstly as a restaurant/bar receptionist at Harvey Nichols, Bristol.
She really wanted to travel the world, so the next step was to find work on the cruise ships - where she started as a Butler on board a 6-star cruise ship (Silver Seas) and worked her way up to Clearance Officer (Disney Cruise Line), then HR/Personnel Manager and left as the Financial Accountant on Norwegian Cruise Line.
In 2014 Jaé took a break from cruise ships for one year and worked as the Personal Assistant to the Emir (king) of Qatar.
“Hospitality has taken me far and wide and has brought me now to New Zealand” she said.
Jaé was expecting the same learning as she’d received back in South Africa when completing her degree, but SIT introduced her to a few different subjects and she said it was actually interesting.
“The lecturers made classes fun and interactive, and a special mention to Sonali Mendis (who taught me in all 4 semesters) who is one of the most knowledgeable lecturers I have had the pleasure of being taught by. She took special care with all classes and ensuring we understood what we were learning, and always made time for all students”.
Programme highlights for Jaé included industrial visits which she said were really awesome, enabling the students to get out in Queenstown, ask questions and meet industry professionals.
Having professionals come into the classroom as well, to talk/present to the students was great, and helped give insight into the NZ hospitality industry.
Jaé said definitely one of the best outcomes from studying at SIT was meeting new people, learning with regards to the hospitality and tourism industry, and about life in NZ. Participating in local events and being hands-on really appealed to her as well.
She valued participating and being hands-on in the Queenstown community while studying there. They were able to volunteer at quite a few local events which she really enjoyed, especially The Queenstown Marathon.
“The multi-cultural event we were all involved in was definitely a highlight for me. We all worked together and I believe we learnt a lot from each other’s cultures and pulled off a successful evening”.
Jaé is really grateful of the support she received during her time studying at SIT.
“I would also like a say a big thank-you to Guna Baskaran (International Support Officer), who assisted me when I had loads of questions when I first started, and throughout my time at SIT”.
She said she appreciated Guna always took the time to help. Guna also provided support during the upheaval and uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic, by keeping the students informed constantly with information from SIT and the Government.
“I would also like to thank Julie and Karen – again always helpful and willing to have a chat and find out how we were getting along”.
Jaé said the final semester was a very trying time due to Covid-19, but the lecturers were so helpful, guiding the students through the uncertainty of the situation. Even though they weren’t in the classroom, support was available online through the collaborate sessions.
“They really deserve a huge thanks for making it work and their patience with us during this time”.
She commented on how willingly the lecturers helped them, including giving advice on gaining employment here in NZ. Jaé was fortunate to secure a job while she was studying in Queenstown, as the Guest Services Manager at a new luxury lodge.
Her role includes: managing the front desk/guest services/concierge employees, creating and implementing SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), managing schedules, training staff, assisting with any guest and staff challenges/queries. She answers emails, take reservations, and assists with any events happening at the lodge, amongst other tasks.
Jaé intends to continue her successful career in hospitality with five-year goal of attaining a General Manager’s position in a hotel. She’s also interested in becoming a lecturer, to pass on her knowledge and to teach others how to succeed in hospitality.