A relative newcomer as an employer in South Africa, the casino industry has experienced phenomenal growth since its legalisation less than 15 years ago and has provided jobs and training to thousands of people during this time.

The human skills supply, however, is nol keeping pace with the growth and demand in the gaming industry, particularly in relation to specialised skills. While this may be true of many other industries, key players in the gaming industry are taking it upon themselves to make positive strides in training, education and personal empowerment of staff.

Nowhere is this more evident than at Montecasino, Gauteng’s most visited leisure destination, attracting in excess of nine million people every year. Within the Tuscan walls of this massive entertainment mecca, opportunities are provided for upskilling and training across all levels, from the casino floor through to top management.

Attracting and developing gifted and high potential staff is one of the top-line principles grounded in the company’s genetic DNA – The Tsogo Way. This formula for success forms the guiding philosophy of Montecasino’s parent company. Tsogo Sun Gaming.

The company’s commitment to investing in the education and training of its staff has been entrenched through the establishment of the Tsogo Academy, a physical and virtual training and development arm that seeks to ensure the right fit between the organisational needs and the skills of its employees by measuring, developing and improving the talents and competencies of its people.

Heading up the Tsogo Academy al Montecasino is Tali Tsunke, the company’s 31-year-old head of Human Resources. A newly marrted father of one, Tati started out as head of department at Montecasino at the age of 29.

Although relatively young for the responsibilities of the position. Tsunke is driven and highly focused on helping Montecasino’s employees to realise their full potential. A graduate of the University of Cape Town, he then studied in Natal University.

Tsunke became accustomed to leadership roles from a very early age. He was the residential house community leader at UCT, where he studied a BA Industrial Sociology and Labour Law. He was also involved in labour movements work in 1996 and formed part of the residential entertainment committee, being voted best entertainment representative for UCT student life.

His postgraduate studies include a qualification in Human Resources from Natal University and an Advanced Diploma in Labour Law from the University of Johannesburg.

Tsunke started off his career with Tsogo Sun working as a human resources consultant at Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World in KZN, before taking up a position at Westbank Corporate.

He was then offered a position within Tsogo Sun Gaming to head up HR at the Nelspruit-based Emnotweni Casino. Tsunke readily agreed and began work on ‘re-engineering’ the casino, where he was able to elevate staff processes before moving on to Montecasino in his current position.

Strongly business-minded, Tsunke is committed to contributing towards his role and making a difference through out-of-the box thinking. This approach to his roles and responsibilities was one of the key reasons he was selected as one of only five delegates from within Tsogo Sun Gaming to travel to the University of Nevada in Reno, Las Vegas in 2008. Over a period of three weeks, he had the opportunity to study in an elevated development programme for gaming, experiencing the world-class entertainment environment of Las Vegas.


Upon taking up his position at Montecasino, Tsunke was challenged to develop and grow the Tsogo Academy within the property.

From operational dealers to floor staff and technicians, the Academy focuses on developing the skills of staff members for leadership roles, improving productivity and competitiveness by acquiring new and critical skills, and aligning the learning development initiatives to the needs of the labour market.

The key objective of the Academy is to encourage employees to use the workplace as an active learning environment and to provide progression on the employees’ respective career paths.

Specific initiatives include:

• The Graduate Development Programme;

■ Learnerships;

■ Technical skills development;

■The Management Development Programme with Wits Business School;

■ Assessment Centre;

■ Open/Career Days; and

• “Get Abstract” online business book summary site.

“We currently have one-year work-based learning programmes in place to help us retain and develop our talented people. We work hard to encourage our staff to understand the corporate culture, as well as maintain a positive work-life balance, which is very important for job satisfaction and. therefore, retention,” comments Tsunke.

Since its inception in 2009. 35 people have graduated from the Tsogo Academy Montecasino.

“Through these and many other initiatives, the Montecasino human resources department undertakes to continuously find ways to improve the company’s current strategic learning and development offering,” says Tsunke.

“Montecasino is an organisation that is committed to increased customer satisfaction, higher efficiencies and improved performance through its people and their development,” he concludes.

Source: Achiever