Hotelier Maldives speaks with Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru’s Assistant Recreation Manager – Afrah Mohamed who started off as an apprentice in the Four Seasons Resort Maldives Apprenticeship Programme. The programme is a vocational training scheme for young and dynamic Maldivians looking to enter the hospitality industry.
Since its inception in 2001, the year-long programme has equipped more than 500 young Maldivians aged 17-21 with the skills necessary to thrive in the demanding hospitality industry. Awarded the ‘President of Maldives Award for Human Resource Development in the Tourism Industry’ in 2001, 2002 and 2004, it again hit headlines in 2010 when it became the country’s first TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) – certified Apprenticeship scheme, with a government-accredited curriculum and nationally recognised and certified competency standards and qualifications.
The Four Seasons Resort Maldives Apprenticeship Programme is the most successful and longest running of its kind in the Indian Ocean. During its decade of operation, its reputation has grown to such a degree that virtually all Apprentices get a job upon graduation, with a level of skill that would otherwise have taken years to acquire.
Hotelier Maldives: How did you develop a passion for working in the hospitality industry?
Afrah Mohamed: I began my career in the hospitality industry by working in a couple of independent hotels in the Maldives. My passion developed whilst on the job and it grew gradually with experience.
HM: How did you decide the Four Seasons Resorts Maldives’ apprenticeship programme was the right choice for you?
AM: I first heard about it from my brother, who was already working at Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru, in 2008. I wasn’t too familiar with Four Seasons as a brand back then and, after some research, I realised what a renowned hotel group it was. I soon understood the apprenticeship could be just the ticket to become part of the ‘family’.
HM: What have you enjoyed most about the programme?
AM: I really enjoyed moving from one department to another and getting an insight into all the different areas a hotel consists of – it was so interesting and exciting! What I loved the most was to be able to engage with guests, build the courage and confidence to constantly perform better, day after day.
HM: What new skills did you learn?
AM: When I started the programme, I had no diving experience and I came out of it as a Dive Master!
HM: How did the apprentice programme equip you for skills required in the hospitality industry?
AM: During the apprenticeship programme, you are taught the A to Z across different departments. You are also assigned a ‘buddy’ that guides you through this incredible journey. It really gives you a sense of how a hotel functions and how all the different departments operate individually and in synergy with each other. It truly makes you feel part of a team from day one.
HM: How do you feel the programme is ingrained in the resorts’ culture?
AM: When the apprenticeship begins, there’s an induction course on Four Seasons history and culture. This means that, from day one, you feel like an ambassador of that same hotel philosophy.
And that’s the same for all the apprentices – they fully understand how the organisation is conceived before they begin any theoretical and practical training.
Moreover, the apprenticeship programme is a good reflection of the Four Seasons culture. The company invests in apprentices so much and provides them with the know-how to succeed through an in-depth training. They don’t ask for anything back, just commitment to do well.
HM: What have you achieved since graduation?
AM: I graduated in 2010 and was initially in the Dive Centre, where I started off as a Dive Centre attendant and worked my way up to Supervisor. I then switched to the Recreation Department, where I’ve become Assistant Manager.
I’m also currently on a cross-exposure training to learn more about Front Office operations. I’m very proud of what I have achieved so far – the journey with Four Seasons Resorts Maldives has been fantastic and there’s been constant progress as well as recognition of my contribution towards the Resort.
HM: Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years? What is the dream?
AM: I would like to become Head of the Recreation Department. I love any sort of water sports and water-related activities so this is where my passion lies. Four Seasons guests arrive with the highest expectations, and it gives us great joy as a team to create unforgettable experiences, just for them.