Sabir Shah, F&B Manager Taj Vivanta, Panjim

Mr.Sabir Shah is a very hardworking, dedicated, inspiring, self-made and an enthusiast person in the hospitality industry. Presently he is working as the F & B Manager for Taj Vivanta, Panaji-Goa. He has been in this industry for a good number of 22 years.

Q.1) What inspired you to choose this very difficult and interesting profession?

First of all, to tell u the truth, I am not a hotel management graduate. When I set off to the hotel industry for a job in laundry , I was offered an apprenticeship in Food & Beverage ,of which I had absolutely no idea .So I completed an eighteen month apprenticeship in F & B at hotel Taj President, Mumbai. And my journey in F & B began from here. I was barely twenty, when I began with In room dining and later, transferred to restaurant. Those who worked in the restaurant were very elderly and had an experience that of my age. But due to my perseverance and support of seniors, I was confirmed in 2 years. By the grace of God I have been lucky enough to get the valuable support from my seniors and associates.

While I worked, I did diploma in hospitality management, after which I pursued my higher studies, i.e. MBA.I was promoted from captain to Restaurant Manager . I was transferred with higher promotions at various locations. So initially, for me, it was not choosing but accepting the orders of my seniors as they were aware of my capabilities. Since then, there is no looking back .I am fortunate enough to work with Mr..Jaikant Shroff an expert in F & B. He has been a real task master, who actually hand-holded me and taught me the integrities of F & B.I could grow professionally due to my seniors constant guidance and support.

Q.2) What would you recommend to the readers and youngsters wishing to get into this profession?

Since this is a 24*7 industry, I believe that when you enter this industry, work becomes your priority. Firstly I recommend that you keep in mind what field you are entering. Before you join this field, initially think and prepare yourself to give 100 % without any excuses as you need to continuously cater to the guests. I advise all readers and youngsters who wish to get into this industry to prepare your mind-set. Every day is a new day and what you did yesterday does not counts.

Q.3) What is the most challenging task that you have in this job?

For me, the most challenging task in this job is keep my employees motivated, I believe that an employee is the biggest asset in this hospitality industry. If your work force is well equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge, your half the battle is won. The only think you have to ensure that they get proper direction.

Q.4) What was your key failure in this career and what are the lessons you learnt from this experience? 

My key failure in this career is that, at times I have taken things lightly, I have paid a very high price. Any event can make you or break you. So what I learnt from my mistake is if you think you cannot, don’t take it up. And if you think you can do ,then take it, complete it, and then move ahead. So I learnt that you should not take even a small guest request lightly.

Q.5) What are the basic needs you believe should be taken care of by the management?

I believe that one basic thing is learning and growth of the employees. Because, today’s wise generation thinks about themselves .Things like what I will get, how I will benefit, what is in store for me, what will be my future, etc. The other thing is the satisfaction of the guests. Give value for his money.

Q.6) So what is your next goal?

Well, my next goal is that I aspire to be the F & B director in a much bigger hotel, i.e., a bigger Taj hotel may be say.

Q.7) If authority leaves up to you, what changes or additions you would like to do in the course in the IHM?

I am not an expert in academics, however I believe that the institutes can focus the practical exposure and experience which should be imparted to all the students .In the first year itself students should be made aware of all the positives of the hospitality industry because this industry is growing in a very big way and offer tremendous opportunities. Everything cannot be mechanised and you cannot go online in terms of service. Especially in this industry emotional touch is very much essential. There is no looking back in this industry . Also we see that hardly 60% of the students pursuing IHM, enter the hotel industry and others seek employment in ancillary industries. So I believe that the importance and prominence of this industry should be revealed and imbibed in them.

Q.8) What according to you is the definition of hygiene?

I think that hygiene is doing the right when nobody is watching.

Q.9) How do you manage with your family in this challenging career, where there are no fixed schedules?

Well, I fully give credit to my family for understanding the type of work, I do and their continuous backing and support. Commonly it is seen that families compare the jobs in hospitality industry with, the timings work schedules. etc of others.

Q.10) As you have direct interaction with the customers, what advise you would like to give to the people like chefs working behind the scene?

Today’s day and age, the chef is no more a back area job. People trust the chef more than the person who takes your orders. So I feel people working behind the scene should be given proper training which should become more confidant to face the guest.

Q.11) What according to you is your customers first preference?

Acknowledgement is the first thing which is very crucial. Today every guest wants acknowledgement. It is because guest come because of people who know them well, i.e.  the guests should be at ease, made to be felt comfortable, etc. Then next priority maybe is food, proximity, dining experience, and ambience.