The importance of training and developing human resources for the hospitality sector cannot be taken for granted, and is a key requirement for the success of the industry, not just in Antigua and Barbuda, but throughout the world.
This from Matara Murphy, the training and development manager at Sandals Grande Antigua, who received the Tourism Management Award at the National Youth Awards on February 5, 2017.
“At Sandals, we have set up the Sandals Corporate University (SCU) which not only allows us to assist staff in obtaining industry-recognised certification, but we also provide scholarships for them to further specialisations and even pursue full degrees,” she said.
Twenty-eight-year old Murphy, who is also the current Antigua Hotels and Tourist Association (AHTA) Young Hotelier of the Year, believes that even if a company cannot do something on that scale, it can find local, or affordable online resources, which can teach customer service and the basic skills needed for any job function.
Altogether over 11,000 persons have benefitted from the SCU’s numerous certificate programmes throughout the Caribbean, while just under 800 have received professional certification as a result of scholarships given by Sandals amounting to almost US$1 million.
Sandals Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Adam Stewart is mindful of the contribution of team members to what the resort has achieved …after all, Sandals Resorts International has been voted World’s Leading All-Inclusive Company 21 consecutive years.
“A big part of why we are so successful is the input of our team members. They are among the finest in the world, and we are proud to invest in their training and development. No one else invests in people the way we do, not just internally, but for the wider community through our Hospitality Training Programme,” Stewart said.
Matara is herself a success story that has come out of the Sandals training system. She is a graduate of the Antigua & Barbuda Hospitality Training Institute’s Hospitality Management associate degree programme. She started in the industry, at age 19, as a concierge agent at Sandals Grande Antigua and later, with the help of Sandals Corporate University, gained a scholarship to complete a bachelor’s degree from Monroe College in Saint Lucia.
Murphy returned to Antigua in 2014 as the raining manager for Grand Pineapple Beach Resort and in 2015 became the Training and Development Manager for Sandals Grande. During her tenure at Sandals she has built on the Hospitality Trainee Programme (HTP), facilitating the training of over 200 young people in the tourism industry.
“After going through our training, young people in Antigua are ready for the world of work and we have historically been able to employ most of them. For those who we cannot engage on a permanent basis, other resorts and restaurants, confident in Sandals training standards, look to us for recommendations,” Murphy said.
General Manager of Sandals Grande Antigua Gaurav “Mr G” Sindhi had words of congratulations for Murphy on her most recent award.
“I can’t think of anyone else in the industry more deserving of the accolades than Ms Murphy,” he said.
“As a citizen of Antigua & Barbuda, she is passionate about the industry, always looking for better ways to improve the standards of the resort, and continuously is seeking to help develop her colleagues.”