Manjula Sankaran, Operations Manager at Prainha Resort by the Sea
After completing her Graduation from IHM Bhubaneshwar, Mrs. Sankaran got the opportunity to work in Cidade De Goa through campus interview and was a part of the organisation for 17 years. During that time, she got the opportunity to explore 2 departments, which was very unusual but FNB service was her forte. From there she moved to Swiss hotel as a pre-opening member, at Calangute and worked there as a front office manager for 3 years. Later she took up the post of Operations Manager at Prainha Resort By The Sea as it was a good opportunity and was close to her house. She has been a part of the organisation for 4 years. The duration of her career is 24 years.
She revealed that her secret to success is her SMILE. It goes a long way in building the relationship and the trust with your guest. It has been the best part of her job; meeting several kinds of people from all walks of life. You end up imbibing a lot of good thought processes and mannerisms from them. My personality both behavioral and physical has changed from my college days to a sharp professional.
Being a student of IHM herself, Mrs. Sankaran says that she believes that all the branches of IHM are all mostly covered. There are a few changes that need to be made to make the finance part of it better. But otherwise in the main core departments, per se, everything is covered. The industrial training is also covered and whatever she implements now is from the foundation that was laid in IHM. So finance is something the Authorities should look into but the rest is more or less covered. For her, IHM was a good exposure.
For the readers and youngsters, wishing to join this profession, she expresses that they need to have passion. If they don’t have the passion to see a smile on their guests face, it is very difficult to continue in the industry. It does take a lot of time, but if you are really enjoying it you might not crib about it very often. The passion takes over and you will move forward. Initially there is a little struggle but as you move up, you will enjoy the perks along with it also. However a struggle is always in every industry and now it is equally challenging in all industries. The only con that comes to her mind is the long working hours that one needs to put in. She mentioned that she has missed out on a lot of family life and also on a lot of milestones of her child because of work hours which is dictated by guest needs.
Personalisation will be remembered for a long period of time and that will ensure that you retain your customer.
She gave an example of personalisation that was done when she was at Swissotel. There was a single lady who came to stay in the hotel, she was celebrating her birthday. The marketing team downloaded and developed a family picture of the guest from Facebook and put it up on a frame. The guest saw touched by the gesture and shed tears of joy. That is something the guest will not forget. These are the little creative things, that one can do, to have your guests come back to you again and that is a passion she has.
She further says that dignity of labour is what one should always maintain. A guest can be fair, but if he or she crosses the line, then they need to be prepared to be told that he or she will not always get a yes for everything. Hoteliers have the freedom to say no when the request crosses the line.
When it comes to career opportunities in the hotel industry for students without a degree in Hotel Management she says it is most definitely possible. 99% of the staff of the accounts and Finance departments will not possess a degree from IHM. Even in front office or housekeeping, there are people who do not have an IHM background. They work there probably because they have the passion for it that is why they have come into it. If you have the right attitude you can go forward. One needs to complete their graduation and then get in as a supervisor. So one’s learning starts from there. After that it is your attitude and your love towards your work that will take you ahead.
She is honest when she says that for higher positions such as GM etc. degrees are preferred. But if your interview goes well and you show your confidence to the interviewer, you will get an opportunity. She also knows a few GMs who do not have IHM background and are doing well.
As a GM or Operations manager your logical thinking is always in process. Tactfulness is very important as they need to handle different people on a daily basis. Different people have different emotions, ideologies, so it depends on how well you handle yourself in the first place.. At that particular time, you don’t have a set rule to speak to someone. If you are a people person then it will help you as you cannot grow if you stay within your shell. One thing that we always disregard in our bid to make a career is our own self. It is a very common saying with working women and especially hoteliers that we do not get time to spend on ourselves, so called “ME TIME’, that is something I would encourage everybody to work on.
In order to make Goa the most preferred tourist destination the government needs to implement a convenient and reasonable transport system. Secondly we need to maintain cleanliness and security in the state. As a lady, one would hesitate to go anywhere if they know that it is not safe. So improvement in transport facilities, cleanliness and security should be the government’s main focus.