Story by GO supporter and Stories for Simon author Lisa Sarzin.

Tameka, Aunty and Niece

A mentoring relationship between Accor’s Liz Curr and GO Scholar Tameka Rowe, is helping Tameka transition successfully from school to the hospitality and tourism industry. Tameka, whose mob is Ngarrindjerri, south of Adelaide, finished school in 2020 amid the challenges of the global pandemic and today she is working at the brand new Sofitel hotel in Adelaide, learning valuable new skills that will equip her well as she starts out on her career journey.

Tameka became a GO Scholar when she was in Year 10 at Paralowie School and is appreciative of the opportunities that being part of the GO family has given her, “they are helpful and supportive, and always check up on me” Tameka reflects. It was at a GO School Day in May 2021 that Tameka first met Liz Curr, Indigenous Programs Manager at Accor, a GO Ecosystem partner. Liz recalls that first meeting with Tameka, and the follow up call from Mark Heiss, Head of Scholarships at GO who suggested that she talk to Tameka about Accor, as she was interested in business. They all met up and Liz says, “any way I thought I could help Tameka she was so open to it”. Liz and Tameka caught up several more times, discussing everything from interviewing techniques to career opportunities at Accor. This led to Tameka’s new job at the Sofitel, which she started in October 2021. Tameka admits that the days are “busy and tiring” as she learns all the aspects of housekeeping and making up rooms, but she has already gained many of the skills that she was hoping to acquire as she transitions from school to career.  At the top of Tameka’s list is “to gain confidence” which she is slowly building through interacting with guests, “At first I was nervous about facing guests but now I am more confident.”

Tameka’s Makeup Tutorial

Tameka has also gained excellent time management skills.  Liz explains that this is something she and Tameka discussed: the importance of transferable skills, especially as Tameka had already started her own makeup business after leaving school and dreams of further developing her makeup artistry business into something more.  Tameka believes that the skills she is currently gaining through Accor “fits in with my career because my main focus was doing makeup so I think it will help me gain confidence interacting with my clients”.

In this way, Tameka exemplifies the aspirations of Accor’s dedicated Indigenous Careers program, which aims to support career pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the tourism and hospitality sector. Marc Bennie, General Manager of Indigenous Programs and Community Investment for Accor explains that “hospitality and tourism is a place where you learn skills that stick with you for life” such as interacting with customers, learning how to give great service and working with people from all over the world. In addition to valuable life skills there are also clear pathways to leadership in hospitality and tourism. Marc says that with support from Accor’s Indigenous Careers team, “if you want to reach for the stars you can really achieve it”.

LIz Curr & Tameka Rowe – Sofitel Adelaide

Accor has been committed to – and has prioritised – Indigenous careers for more than 20 years to achieve a more equitable future for all. For the last 6 years Accor has had a dedicated team working on Indigenous careers, helping to deepen and accelerate a strong cultural foundation for all their programs, and create a stronger Indigenous voice in the tourism and hospitality sector. Marc explains that Accor operates in a sector “where culture can be brought to life in our business through art, food, storytelling and performance and Accor actively encourages hotels to be culturally safe places that recognise, respect and celebrate the rich history and culture of Australia and its First Peoples”.   Accor’s philosophy of achieving great outcomes for all and serving others is also reflected in the relationship of mutual support, trust and respect that it has with the GO Foundation. Accor and GO work collaboratively to support each other’s needs, and this “two-way approach” is, for Marc, the sign of a truly great partnership.

Marc is proud to be a part of the Indigenous Careers team running programs at Accor, “they have a strong desire to create opportunities with Indigenous students and ensure that they maximise everything that comes to them in life.”

Liz is one of these highly dedicated and passionate people.  The supportive relationship between Tameka and Liz is evident as they sit side by side for the GO Yarn at the Sofitel where Tameka now works.  They yarn about their journey together, starting with the GO School Day in May.  Liz shares that the most rewarding part of her job is “Sitting here with Tameka. I’m walking into her space now, it’s her job, her hotel. The most rewarding thing is to see Tameka in the corridors and to keep working with her.”  Liz’s message to GO Scholars is “don’t hold back. Have the confidence and don’t be afraid to utilise the people around to help you. That’s why we are here.” This complements Tameka’s own motto, and advice to other GO Scholars, “Believe in yourself”.