Gerty Carmichael, hospitality services manager at Letaba Camp, recently retired from her position with the Kruger National Park. “There is a time to come and a time to go. I had a wonderful time in Kruger and although there is still a lot to be done it is my time to go”. She has a passion for people, which is part of her success as a manager and can be seen in the way she treats her fellow employees.
Respect runs both ways she says - other people will only respect you if you show them respect for who they are. She says supervisors should not mistake fear as a sign of respect. Gerty, who has vast experience in travelling not only locally but also abroad, says that meeting people from other countries and cultures helped her a lot in understanding people better.
Travelling in countries where there are no differences between race, colour or language helped her to adapt in an environment where these issues were still apparent. Gerty was born in Nelspruit in the Mpumalanga province where she also started school. From here she moved with her family to Swaziland where she completed matric at Saint Michaels High in Manzini.
She got married in Swaziland and had five children. Today her children live in Swaziland, Mozambique and Gauteng. In 2000 one of her daughters passed away and Gerty took over the charge of her three granddaughters. Two of the girls went to school at Frans du Toit high school in Phalaborwa and Gerty cannot praise the hostel parents enough for what they did to help the children.
The older of the two passed matric and is currently studying at RAU university in Johannesburg. Gerty’s career started in 1977 when she joined Rennies Consolidated. She did a little bit of travelling as well as imports and exports. She then joined Royal Swazi Airlines working as a typist in the typing pool.
She worked herself up in the company by going into sales and marketing and left the company with a senior position in marketing. In 1996 she started to work for Aventura Resorts marketing all 15 of the resorts.
She left South Africa to set up a travel agency in Mozambique with international accreditation. On the first of November 2001 she joined the Kruger National Park (KNP). Gerty say that although the working environment was more relaxed, she found people a little hostile in the beginning.
She adds being a black female and from a different country did not help at all. Gerty say this and also the fact that she was more mature made her determined to make it work. Luckily people realised her efforts were genuine and slowly they accepted her and started to act as a team.
To Gerty this is very important and she is glad to state that today all departments work together as one team. Gerty believes in on-the-job training and urges all her colleagues to use these opportunities when they come by. Gerty hopes that her successor will build on the relationship that she and her colleagues had and although she is sad to go she looks forward to the challenges that lie ahead. She hopes to get involved in AIDS issues and in the training of people regarding this.