Shekhar Diwadkar, Secretary – of SKAL International India and Business Head-Hospitality Division of Alcon Group

Mr.Shekhar Diwadkar who hails from Goa, is a very hardworking and a well experienced personality. Having a huge experience of almost 33 years, he has definitely grown to be a pioneer. He is a firm believer of, “Athiti Devo Bhavo”. He enjoys working with people and that is why he joined this industry. But getting into this field was not at all easy for him as his father pushed him into engineering. Yet he tried his best and managed to shift to hospitality industry after which, there was no looking back.

He started off his career in the hospitality industry as early as in the year 1986 and got major exposure in Mumbai. His journey in the hotel industry started off by working at a book store at Hotel Horizon in Juhu and later worked in the Housekeeping department, where he grew as a supervisor. He then worked as Front Office Assistant at Hotel Sands. This was followed by a short duration course in Hotel Management at ITC, after which he joined the Taj Group as a Hotel Operations Management Trainee, where he served for three years as a catering assistant. He then came down to Goa and joined Cidade De Goa as F & B Executive. As such he has served in various hotels in Goa like the D’Souza Group at Sun Village & Nizmar Resort. He also set up the Sandalwood Hotel & Retreat in Dona Paula right from scratch. And currently he is working as the business head of Hospitality division at ALCON Enterprises that includes overlooking the operations of the Hotel Grande Delmon, Lifestyle Villa and O’ Coqueiro and he also represents the parent company when dealing with Keys for Keys Ronil Beach Resort. So this is his journey of 33 years in the hospitality industry.

According to him, perseverance is the key to success. He says that one faces a lot of difficulties, but you put in a lot of efforts and have to go through it to reach somewhere in life. In the hospitality industry, you have to put the concept of, “Atithi Devo Bhavo” into practice and see that it works.

He feels that hospitality as a profession looks very glamorous from the outside, but it’s all about hard work and long working hours in the inside. He recommends to the readers and youngsters that the balancing of personal and professional life is a key factor which will help you to have a smooth journey in the hospitality industry.

Mr. Shekhar believes that one need not possess a degree or diploma in Hotel management to join the hospitality industry. Being a graduate is enough to get into this field. In addition to this, common sense and confidence, with the ability to absorb and grow could take you a long way in this competitive service industry. According to him, “ Good Communication, Common Sense & Empathy ” are prerequisites to a good career in the Hospitality Industry. All you need to do this is communicate well and show empathy to your guests. It is important to establish a good relationship with customers, so that they come back for more.

To win in the market place you must first win in the workplace .So the service providers in the hospitality industry can reach to great heights if they keep their staff happy and take care of their growth and development .The management should also ensure that they take care of their growth and development. The management should judge the staff and their capacities, offer proper directions and guide them to become better and succeed. According to him the management should become the mentors so that the staffs become the right kind of resources for the industry.

We face challenges in every walk of life and challenges are meant to be met and overcome. Likewise there are many challenges in the hospitality industry and according to Mr. Shekhar the retention of human resources is a major challenge. In Goa, there is lack of manpower. They prefer going abroad i.e. places like the Gulf or Europe or even work on a cruise after working here for a short duration to get experience. Hence the availability of local population is quite less. So hoteliers have to depend on other sources for manpower i.e. manpower from interior or eastern India, where again language is an issue, which is yet another challenge.

In addition to this, the hoteliers in general, face three major challenges in operations according to Mr. Shekhar. They are:
1.) Lack of proper workforce.
2.) Unavailability of manpower on holidays and festivals.
3.) Dependence on external sources for the raw materials required by the hoteliers and also disruption of smooth flow of supplies during natural disasters.

He believes that the management will be successful only if they work hand in hand with the staff, support each other, provide corrective solution, take calculative risks and provide solutions on the spot. So his advice to other hoteliers is to ensure the security of staff tenure, provide proper remuneration and abide by the statutory compliances like ESI, PF etc. All this will ensure that the employees will give their best. So if you fulfill the wishes of your employees, the employees will fulfill your visions.