Exclusive: Abdulla Thamheed – Rising at the Sun
Abdulla Thamheed, or Thambe as he is more affectionately known, is the group general manager at The Sun Siyam Resorts, Maldives. Young, energetic and loved by many, Thambe started his career at a very young age. His rise to the top is an inspiring tale – it’s the story of how a young boy started off as waiter at a bar, worked his way up the ladder, and now sits as the group general manager at one of the most prestigious resort brands in the Maldives, The Sun Siyam group.
It all started almost 15 years ago, when Abdulla Thamheed landed his first job as a trainee waiter at the main bar at Vilivaru Resort, where coincidentally his father was also working at the time. His job description back then consisted mostly of washing the glasses and cleaning the bar during service hours. Despite this less than glamorous beginning to his glittering career, Thambe was undeterred. He had caught the hospitality industry bug and worked hard in the role. His dedication paid off as he quickly made his way up the ladder. Throughout his 15 years in the industry, Thambe has worked as an F&B Assistant, Operations Manager, and Assistant Resort Manager.
Thambe became part of the family at The Sun Siyam group back in 2003, where he started off as an F&B coordinator. Since then, it’s been a steady stream of promotions; moving from F&B Assistant to F&B Manager to Operations Manager to the Resident Manager. After ten years of continual career development, he became Group General Manager of The Sun Siyam group of resorts in November 2013.
Thambe attributes much of his success to his personal passion for the brand. A loyal team player to the hotel group ever since he joined twelve years ago, Thambe says “The Sun Siyam resorts are different to any other resort in the Maldives in the sense that the staff and management at The Sun Siyam group are constantly thinking of ways and ideas on how to engage the clients and guests in getting them more involved in the development programs we conduct in surrounding local communities.” It’s this outward-looking focus that makes the group unique for Thambe.
As one of the strong pillars in The Sun Siyam group and as a mentor to the fresh new faces joining the industry, Thambe points out the five cardinal rules in making it big in the industry:
- See this as an opportunity to be successful, and not as just another job.
- Set your goals as clearly as possible, be absolutely sure and confident about what you want to achieve when you join the industry.
- Be honest. It is only natural that you make a few mistakes along your way, but if it comes to it, fess up, take the heat, and charge through.
- Whenever an opportunity arises to learn, be willing, be enthusiastic, and LEARN!
- Follow the instructions of your peers, your mentors.
When asked about the most rewarding part of his job, Thambe again emphasises his love of community development. “The fact that I am able to bring about change and work towards the betterment of the economy of the country through which the local communities also benefit is itself a reward,” he says with enthusiasm.
This is not to say that life as the group general manager is always plain sailing. Thambe explains there are always challenges when building the team and improving the brand name. “The Maldives tourism industry is a constantly evolving business and you have to build a team of leaders who are able to innovate and build the business with new ideas and bring different paradigms into the organization to keep you ahead of the pack,” he says.
This evolution has been a dominating feature of the Maldivian tourism industry over the past two decades and Thambe fondly reflects on what the tourism industry in Maldives was like when he started his career. “I remember the Maldives had only 50 resorts back then. Today we have doubled the amount and we are still growing. The standard of resorts was very low compared to what we see today,” he recalls. “I think the tourism industry in the Maldives has grown at a magical pace, and I believe we need to be conscious of not becoming a mass tourism destination and retaining the Maldives brand of hospitality.”
Abdulla Thamheed has worked in the tourism industry for the most part of his young life. Having spent so much time developing his career, one might question how he manages to strike the right balance in his life. “It is difficult but not impossible to find the balance between personal life and a career, and almost everyone in the industry is in the same boat when it comes to family,” he says. Career driven, motivated and always willing to learn, Thambe balances his personal life and work life like every other hardworking man in the industry does.
Having accomplished so much already, Thambe has his sights set on achieving even greater targets. Highly optimistic and eager to give back to the community, Thambe says “My goal is to establish my own hospitality institution for career driven, highly motivated youth looking to make it big in the tourism industry.” With a wealth of experience under his belt, the move could prove to be his greatest yet.