Learning Journey: The generalist

Date: May 16, 2016
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A Generalist is defined as a person who is competent in several fields or activities  

Fikile Maviya the generalistI am sure you are wondering why I call myself the Generalist.  Well wonder no more as you read through my story.  Gender Links (GL) employed me as a Procurement Officer in 2014 and by the end of 2015 I was asked to move to the GL Cottages as the new Events Coordinator. This was a new position at GL Cottages and a new department. Overnight I had to shift from a non-profit mindset to a profit making mindset!

Whilst procurement is about buying or purchasing something, events management on the other hand involves the creation, direction and planning of all kinds of events. Managing events can at times be chaotic and stressful but this is compensated for when the goals are achieved and exceed expectations. As a new department we had to look at other possible activities that we could add such as tours, team building, ticketing and wellness.  We had to come up with marketing strategies and pricing systems that are profitable but still cheaper for our clients.

The first test of my event management skills was with a group of 30 delegates from the African Development Bank (AFDB) who had come to Johannesburg for a week’s meeting and had been persuaded by our CEO, Colleen Lowe Morna, to include a bit of fun in their schedule, such as touring and dining out. The planning process is one of the most important aspects of a successful event and, according to the feedback we got from our clients, the event was smooth and successful. We started with different tours that included the Apartheid Museum, Soweto and Maropeng. The GL Cottages team did a great job! Transport, drivers and guides for the three groups were organised, as were packed meals from our kitchen. Delegates were given an assignment by their workshop facilitator to put on their gender lenses as they were touring and it was great to hear that this was achieved and that the feedback was full of enthusiasm.

We have since held other events including the GL Fun Day where the highlight of the day was a treasure hunt with real jewellery, pocket torches, keyrings, etc., hidden in different places around the Cottages property. The venue décor proved that we could do more with less as from the gate the pirates theme was evident and even the chef was in a pirate’s costume!  One of the events was drumming, held at the GL Cottages Boma.  Delegates had to drum a tune from their different countries and we had an amazing night. Again we proved that we could do more with less as décor included old flags from different countries and tree stumps that were used as chairs.

With the new move to the Cottages, I also find myself assisting the Housekeeping Manager and Maintenance Officer in the monitoring of repairs to the property, shuttling and reservations of rooms for guests. So by now I am sure you understand why the new title of Generalist?  I am indeed becoming knowledgeable in many fields and activities!

Written by Fikile Maviya, Events Coordinator for GL Cottages