Tuesday, June 25, 2013

When Hospitality is Your Call...

A lot of our she readers have started finding AWSW as their 'Comfort Zone', and this is a recent feedback from one of our new readers. Yes, that's what the portal is supposed to do. Connect you with some wonderful women, and bring their inspiring journeys to make your own even more inspiring.
So, here we are with yet another interesting faces in our regular success series of "Women at Their Creative Best"
Ganguly's Heavenly Abode... The Imperial Hotel

We have featured many talents in this series, but never ever touched the luxury world of Hospitality. Yes, this is present day's flavour, and a lot of aspiring women are heading for a glam career in this field. And, that's why we decided to bring the first-hand experience of some lovely women in this profession. The first face in this is of Aparupa Ray Ganguly, a seasoned hospitality communication  professional, associated with The Imperial Hotel, New Delhi. She also happens to be one of our contributors. Remember The Retreat ? Read what she has to say...

"I almost accidentally landed myself in the infamously branded, ‘Big, bad world of Hotels’, not knowing what was in store for me! Way back in 2001, when I joined Advertising, thinking it was my ticket to the world of creativity, I never knew I would actually land up heading communication departments of many wonderful hotels. “So when can you come on board Aparupa?" checked Mr. Lobo, the extremely polished and seasoned General Manager of The Radisson Hotel, New Delhi. I almost thought my ears were ringing!! I was thrilled beyond words!!
That is where I believe the journey began and there has been no looking back ever since. As someone who had absolutely no knowledge of the hospitality industry, I did initially face hiccups and had to deal with a few stumbling blocks. For example, even fine-dining etiquettes in a formal sit-down dinner were alien to me! I had no clue! I had to learn everything on the job. I didn't know how kitchens functioned. I didn't know the protocol in Embassy events! I didn't even know how to draft a decent, formal guest letter! But I waded through and kept learning on the job. Success never comes easy and one has to earn it with hard work and so I did.
Hotels, have strangely housed a funny sort of image in the minds of many who have never worked in a professionally run organization and a lot of people still nurse the opinion that hotels per say are a sleazy job option for women and may not really be the best place for them to be working in. God really help those who still believe so! Coz they really haven’t stepped out and seen the world. For somebody who has worked in some of the best five star deluxe hotels over the past 11 years, I can personally vouch for the kind of environment that women are exposed to on a day to basis, to an extent that it spoils you so much that one finds it difficult to even leave and go elsewhere!! I mean I have been flushed with offers from the corporate world so many times. It’s a different thing that I turned them down because I simply love this industry and my work, which is why I will never leave, but a lot of times when I have casually entertained the thought, I have taken a u-turn thinking how foolish it would be of me to leave a world of creative opportunities like this," she narrates.
We wanted to know more about the communication in this field. " The role of Communication in the hospitality industry is extremely critical and is recognized as an unorthodox profile which is why I have always enjoyed the freedom to think afresh and sky is the limit. There are no boundaries, one has to stay inspired and keep ideating on new thoughts and initiatives. Contrary to an old school of thought, I think hotels today offer a very professional and cordial atmosphere for women to work respectfully amidst a plush environment. There is no bias against women and much like any other industry, hard work and high caliber has never stopped anyone from reaching the pinnacle. When you work for a respectable hotel brand, you do get spoilt in more ways than one. As a woman, I am greeted and acknowledged by virtually everyone who crosses my path, every morning. There is not a moment in all these years when I have ever felt unsafe even after having kept late hours at work. I have been cordially escorted and dropped at the doorstep of my house by a chauffeur driven car, and ensured that my folks have never had to worry about my safety. However much like every other industry, a woman does face the usual challenges. I think one of the challenges that initially did take a bit of a toll on me were the long hours but I guess once you start enjoying your work, it all starts getting out of your way. After sailing for almost 11 years in hospitality through good and bad times, today as a Head of Marketing and Public Relations for an iconic heritage property like The Imperial, when I look back at the footprints I have left, they surely make for a happy picture," sums Ganguly. Well, she surely has...

But the story doesn't end here, as there are many who have been in the same industry, but handling some other respectable accounts, with the same dedication and hard work. And, Richa K Singh, Executive Vise President, Business Development, The Treehouse Hotel is one of them.

For Richa K Singh Hospitality has Been a Self-exploration
For Singh, who from luxury hotel decided to move to budget-friendly hotel, the journey started at a time when there were not many international chains in India. " Way back in mid 90's when I joined Taj Group, as a management trainee, hospitality was different. Yes, we had same excitement, what I see today, when young girls join the industry, but then the industry just started picking up. I was lucky to be associated with Taj, where I worked in the Operations. But, I was not very sure, and was still exploring myself. Hospitality was one thing that was always on my mind, but I used to ask myself if this is what I was made for. After a few years of experience, I thought of trying some other fields as well, and that's when I had a short stint with Public Relation world, but soon realized that it was not my cup of tea. Then, I also tried my hand in the IT field, which was more about the corporate job. It was good, as it was the talk of the day then. But i soon realized that only hospitality was my call, and I once again got back into it, but this time it was The Oberoi. I joined their Delhi office, and was now taking care of the Sales. I always knew that this is one industry that makes me happy. And, why not? It may sound cliche, but I love meeting new genre of people, and hospitality makes you greet so many people, of different races, regions, and caliber," says Singh.
But, for a woman, there is a lot more in life. Motherhood is one of that! And, Singh soon went on the family way. " After working for some time in the capital, I shifted to Pune Oberoi after marriage. Soon I realized that motherhood is the call, and had to take a break once again. I had a complicated first pregnancy, and therefore the break was long. I soon conceived once again and had my second baby. I was enjoying motherhood, looking after the kids, was around them, when they needed me the most. Soon we shifted back to Delhi, and once again the craving for getting back to the industry started. And I joined The Oberoi, again into sales but this time it was more on the corporate account. I thankfully had the flexibility of working for a few hours. But, I somehow started feeling that when you are associated with a big group, it is more about their identity, and less about yours. People knew me as someone who is associated with The Oberoi group. Also, right from the beginning, I was into luxury hospitality, and after gaining years of experience, I wanted more in my portfolio. That's when The Treehouse Hotel offer came. Since it was of a very dear friend, I decided to join them, and simply loved the freedom that I was looking for," summed Singh.

We asked her about her views about this industry, especially for women. " I feel hospitality is a total luxury, and women can sail smooth. If you can take the working hours pressure easily, you are almost married to this industry. Also, I feel it is far more safer, and provides you with a lot of luxuries. The picks and drops are there in many other industries, but here there is a touch of elan. It's fine dining and drinking, plus the splendid travels, meeting people of class and repute. It's just wonderful. But, you must be sure that hospitality is your call, else it can be a nightmare," said Singh.

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