SACBW featured member Kyla-Leigh Rodgers from Neethlingshof Wine Estate

Her glass runneth over…

September is Tourism month and we proudly profile some of our members working in the tourism or related industries.  This week, we visit Kyla-Leigh Rodgers, Tasting Room Manager at Neethlingshof Wine Estate, to find out a little more about her.

Kyla-Leigh’s passion to make a difference is what lead her to the business world and today her influence is felt whether she is striving for customer excellence or executing successful events to give guests a memorable experience. “I knew that I wanted to work in an environment where I was not only able to use my skills and knowledge to build my world, but also bring my passion to life, which is what the hospitality and tourism industry has allowed me to do over the years” explains Kyla-Leigh.

She always had an interest in the hospitality industry and was very fortunate to land a position at a wine estate when she was looking for a summer job after completing her studies. “The ideal position presented itself and I couldn’t resist,” she explains.

For many years, being a young female in a male dominated environment, posed a big challenge.   This has however changed a lot in recent times, and it helped her to develop independent strengths she never knew she had.  It helps to be driven by your passion, says Kyla-Leigh.  “Do what you love and love what you do, and you will be successful in any business” she believes.

The best advice she has for other young women wanting to enter the hospitality industry is to develop interpersonal skills.  When you work with people, you must be able to empathize with your client and your staff. “This is how you realize expectations and achieve them” says Kyla-Leigh.  “It is also useful to set a five-year plan with targets, so you will have a checklist of goals to tick off as you go on your entrepreneurial journey”.

She regrets not having joined more networking groups from the onset as this would have presented more opportunities and support in the early stages of her career. Networking is the highest form of marketing and builds relationships that can generate more business over time. Networking is essential and forms the backbone of any successful business.  She also wishes that she knew it was in order to fail. “Failing teaches you a lot and becomes the building blocks of your success” says Kyla-Leigh.

This year has been a challenge like none other, but Kyla-Leigh found that staying positive was a good coping mechanism for her. “A positive attitude is what we all need to get through the rest of this year.  We need to focus on our local consumers whilst the borders remain closed until November,  but we also need to be efficient in our preparation for when borders re-open, “ she says.

At Neethlingshof Wine Estate they also evaluated their operations as many areas of their business are starting from scratch.  They also built e-commerce into their strategic plan to curb the ban on travel and alcohol sales caused by the pandemic.   They were also supported during lockdown by a voucher system offered on platforms as stimulation initiatives for restaurants and hospitality facilities.

“I have learned  that, now more than ever, we need to support each other within the tourism industry, locally and internationally, in order to grow and get back to being one of the top international tourism countries,” says Kyla-Leigh.

We agree Kyla-Leigh!  And we look forward to the opening of borders and welcoming international travellers to our shores!

Visit Neethlingshof Wine Estate in Polkadraai Road, Stellenbosch or call them on 021 883 8975.

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