November 2023

Hotel management alumna plays pivotal role in developing hospitality in Botswana

By Melanie Hall

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A former hotel management student turned government employee is playing a pivotal role in developing hospitality and culinary arts training in Botswana.

Galeichubeloe Nnana Babili ne Gaboutloeloe is the Principal Technical Education Officer in the Ministry Of Education and Skills Development in the southern African country. In this role, she is directly responsible for providing the training for young people to excel in the industry and as part of this, she is developing the curriculum for hospitality operations and culinary arts taught in the technical colleges at diploma level. 

Decades earlier at the age of 24, Galeichubeloe, known as Gale, was keen to get into the emerging tourism and hospitality sector in Botswana. “It was a new phenomenon then,” recalls Gale, “and I would have to go to South Africa or Kenya to study hospitality.”

Then, at an exhibition in Hong Kong, she stumbled across University College Birmingham.

When she saw that she could study for a Higher National Diploma in Hotel, Catering and Institutional Management, she did not hesitate and within a few months, and with the help of a government scholarship, she had moved to the UK and started the course.

A major attraction of the course was the 48-week placement, compared to shorter placements offered elsewhere. “I learned such a lot, moving around departments in the hotel and put theory into practice. It really added to the overall education experience.”

But the UK education system, and independent study, did have its challenges. “I had to adjust very fast from the learning background in my country to a fast-paced type of learning in the UK, which was student-based."

"To today’s students, I would say that they have chosen a good college where if they need help, it is always there for them. I learned that studying in a place like Birmingham, especially at the college, was a privilege."

Galeichubeloe Nnana Babili nèe Gaboutloeloe Hotel, Catering and Institutional Management

Gale threw herself into her studies, making the most of every opportunity to learn. “I had to be active and take part in all activities that would help me learn how to study on my own and in teams,” she said.

Her interaction with fellow students was another big bonus. “It made me realise there is real life in the hospitality industry, I was meeting different people from diverse cultures – and it gave me the opportunity to learn from them.”

This included brushing up her Japanese and learning a little Portuguese, which she put to good use during her first hotel jobs. Becoming a government employee and passing on her expertise is a dream come true for Gale. But a government role wasn’t in her mind when she left Birmingham.

“College helped me get my first job in Botswana," she said. "The student relations office helped me set up my CV and prepared me for interviews. I arrived back in Botswana in July and by August, I had got a job.”

Gale rose quickly through the ranks at Cresta Hotels as Food and Beverages Manager until she was talent spotted by a guest. Her career was to take a new direction as that guest was so impressed with what they saw and advised that she should share her knowledge and skills to the youth through teaching, and when the job opportunity came up, she applied and was offered a college teaching job.

Lecturer, senior lecturer, and Acting Head of Department followed, plus a master's in Tourism and Hospitality Management gained in South Africa culminated in the job profile role she currently holds.

“I am now coordinating the formulation of hospitality programmes for technical colleges offering Foundation, Certificate, Advanced Certificate and Diploma accreditations. What I learned at University College Birmingham is what I am implementing here. It was the foundation for what I am doing now.”

Gale looks back on her time at Birmingham fondly. “To today’s students, I would say that they have chosen a good college where if they need help, it is always there for them." she said. "I learned that studying in a place like Birmingham, especially at the college, was a privilege.

“I met students from different countries and that made learning fun and easy to manage. I wouldn’t hesitate to come back to Birmingham and University College Birmingham."

As a final word of advice to today's students, she added: “Be open to possibilities, use time wisely and concentrate on your studies."

University College Birmingham offers college courses and degrees in hospitality and culinary arts within our Department of Hospitality and Tourism and Birmingham College of Food.

List of courses 

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