Congrats to Rose Ngilisho, First Tanzanian Woman General Manager of Thomson Safaris, LTD!

Written by Thomson Safaris

thomson safaris arusha general manager Rose

We’re thrilled to announce that Rose Ngilisho has been named the new General Manager of Thomson Safaris, LTD in Tanzania! Her appointment is a historic milestone–she’s the first Tanzanian woman to hold this leadership position in company history. Building on her 21 years of managerial excellence in the Camps Department, her story serves as an inspiration to Tanzanian women struggling to excel in industries dominated by men.

“I feel a profoundly humbling feeling, a sense of excitement and a deep realization of the magnitude of my responsibility,” Rose said.


Rose is a Chagga woman and mother of three, with a small stature, enormous heart and disarming smile. But what a powerhouse she is–those who meet her quickly realize she demands respect and refuses to tolerate nonsense.

“Rose should not be underestimated,” Ina Steinhilber, President of Thomson Safaris, said. “To be a Tanzanian woman in business is a rare thing, and to excel so quickly while managing the hurdles of patriarchy is an extraordinary achievement.”


Growing Up Fearless

From her earliest years, Rose resisted the prevailing social norm in Tanzania that women must be submissive. She was fortunate to find a role model in her mother: a resilient woman who challenged these norms by gracefully navigating both motherhood and a corporate career.

She instilled in Rose a belief that women shouldn’t shy away from being different–and that embracing one’s individuality is a source of strength.

“I learned it’s okay for women to be ambitious,” Rose said. “I learned there was power in consistency, hard work, believing in yourself and having good mentors.”


Supported by her parents, Rose earned a college diploma in hotel, travel and business management in Arusha, then worked for an airline and a technology store before joining Thomson Safaris, LTD in 2001.


Learning the Ropes

Rose’s first roles included IT assistant and bookkeeper–roles that thrust her into unfamiliar territory with a steep learning curve. Undeterred, Rose embraced the challenge with diligence, nurturing her core values of ethics, courage, resilience and hard work that would serve as her compass in the years ahead.

Rose at the Thomson Safaris office in Arusha in 2006Rose at the Arusha office in 2006

After a year and a half in these positions, she was promoted to the Manager of the Camps Department in 2003–becoming the first woman leading any department in the history of Thomson Safaris, LTD.


Running the Camps Department

Early in her tenure, Rose learned to foster a collaborative spirit while maintaining her autonomy. She often ventured into the wilderness with all-male crews to scout new locations for Nyumba camps. For privacy, she would request her tent to be pitched a soccer field’s length away from theirs. She vividly remembers carrying a panga–a broad-bladed knife–in her duffle on these trips, just in case the wildlife in those remote areas got a little too close.

“I would welcome every sunrise with a sense of bravery for having overcome the wild night alone,” Rose said. “Thinking back, it’s hard to believe it was really me, out there, doing that.”


Though she never had to use the knife, it became a symbol of her independence, and one she cherishes to this day.


Breaking Barriers

Rose has never been afraid to forge her own path. Early in her work as Camps Manager, she needed to make a long drive from the northern Serengeti camp to its central Serengeti counterpart. Her male co-workers offered to accompany her. Rose refused. She drove alone, unafraid to traverse the wilds on her own terms. Her colleagues in the central Serengeti were shocked to see Rose come to camp unassisted; it was proof that she had arrived in more ways than one.

“My solo arrival to the central Serengeti was one of many successes that commanded respect and set a tone for how I wanted to be treated going forward,” Rose said.

rose with thomson camp staff, guides and us staffers at ngorongoro campRose with the Thomson Safaris, LTD staffers at Ngorongoro Nyumba camp in 2023

Under her leadership, the Nyumba camps flourished. She established blueprints for consistent, more visually appealing campsites. These aesthetic decisions have had an enormous influence on the breathtaking vistas that these Nyumbas offer to this day.

northern serengeti nyumba campThomson LTD’s Nyumba Camp in the Northern Serengeti

“I did what one would do in their home: position things differently to suit the eye,” Rose said. “Eventually, all camps followed suit. The rest is history.”


Empowering Women

With over 21 years of hands-on experience in the company’s daily safari operations, Rose’s ascent to General Manager was a natural progression. We congratulate Rose on her accomplishment and look forward to working with her in the years to come.

And for women struggling against Tanzania’s traditional gender roles, Rose has some advice:

“They say it’s tough for a woman in a man’s world,” Rose said. “I say it’s fun. Get out there and make the impossible possible. Make it fun.”