My A-Z autobiography – the Indaba Conference Centre http://www.indabahotel.co.za/
This was quite definitely the most beautiful place I have ever worked, and possibly the most alarming boss I ever had, a fiery and demanding man who never smiled, or even looked pleased, and had been moved from a previous hotel because the entire staff went on strike insisting he be replaced. When I joined the Indaba team, as his executive assistant, he had been Managing director for just over a year and the staff turnover had soared to over 300%. No pressure, then.
Actually we got on fine. I enjoyed the job, relished the challenge, and was genuinely impressed by what he was achieving. Under his impatient but brilliant direction, the Indaba went from a pretty country hotel to a superb international conference centre. He was very hands on and never a detail escaped his eagle eye – he could run the kitchen, act as chef, run the accounts department, outsell any of the marketing people and he knew it, and they knew it. The very best you could hope for in the way of approval was for his semi-permanent scowl to lift slightly.
The more successful the hotel got, the more it was targeted by hopeful streetwalkers. They were far too afraid of him to venture inside the gates but there were more of them hanging around outside every day and despite his angry demands that security move them on, they were proving impossible to shift. It was, in his opinion, extremely bad PR for his wonderful hotel and finally he couldn’t bear it any more. In his tailored suit, silk shirt and immaculate tie he led a few nervous and deeply reluctant security guards on a mid-afternoon surprise sortie outside the gates. Security guards were one thing – the notoriously choleric MD shouting at them was quite another, and the crowd melted away in seconds. I was in Reception (everyone who could find the faintest excuse to be there was in Reception) and saw his slightly ruffled but triumphant return from the gate. He never smiled, but right then he did, for once, look grimly satisfied!