Suborna Biswas Pammi, Senior Manager Human Resources at Chalet Hotels Limited
Ms Suborna Biswas was born in Calcutta and bought up in Baroda, Gujarat. She started her career from a manufacturing company. After working for 2 years at the manufacturing company, she moved on to working for a Leading Gujarati Publishing house called Sandesh Press. Her first ever break into the hospitality industry was when she started working for Marriott International, Ahmedabad. She was later transferred to J.W Marriott Juhu in Mumbai. It was very fortunate for her that she got such good properties and that helped her learn faster than expected. She was elevated to the next role and move to Courtyard by Marriott, Mumbai. Post working their for 2 years, Marriott gave her an opportunity to move to Bhopal, although it was a small property, but she was offered a department head role there so that she could turn around the property.
“By the time this offer came to me, I was already married but then I decided to move alone to Bhopal. I worked there for around 2 years, turned the property around in a year or so and had a great learning experience. Again, I was transferred back to Mumbai, St Regis Mumbai..I was offered an opportunity from K Raheja Corp. Even though Raheja is predominantly into real estate, however they diversify into different businesses. Raheja is into real estate, commercial, retail etc. Shopper’s stop, Inorbit etc belong to Raheja. I was offered an opportunity to head HR in hospitality division i.e. Chalet Hotels Ltd. Chalet Hotels is into hotels and commercials. Currently, I am handling 7-8 properties as an HR from the corporate office which include J.W SAHAR AIRPORT, RENAISSANCE MUMBAI, FOUR POINTS WASHI, NOVOTEL, Pune, Westin, Hyderabad, Marriott Bangalore and a resort in Mumbai. To conclude, I have 11 years of experience specifically in hotels as an HR.”
Everybody has a different definition of success. According to her, if you have set a goal in your life and if you achieve that, it is an indication of success. There are people who set their goal to become like Ambani or there are people who set their own targets, so if you achieve these goals in your targeted time then that is success for you. “For me, success is an achievement of desired vision and planned goals.”
Success is a very important part of life; everyone wants to be successful. Suborna thinks that the right attitude and the hunger to learn more is the key to her success. No matter what position a person is at; he should always have the craving to learn. Even if you are the CEO, it is very important to have this want to learn more and have the right attitude. According to me, no matter where you go, these two things are very crucial to achieving success.
Of course, COVID has halted and pushed all our plans and timelines ahead. But she thinks that in the next 5 years she doesn’t want to stick only to hospitality but explore a new industry since HR is all about people connect. So, wherever she goes the fundamental will remain the same. “But even though I want to explore other industries, it’s been so long that I have been in hospitality that I don’t feel like moving out of it. But yes, my 5-year plan does include adding at least two more industries to my profile so it will build a variety of experiences for me, thus making my profile stronger.”
Passion is something which drives a person and motivates them to reach and attain their goals. Suborna shares that HR itself is her passion. It’s unbelievable how in 12th grade she knew that she wanted to join HR, since she has always been a people person. So it was very clear to me what had to be done. She took steps accordingly, moulded herself and perceived her further education in it. She completed her specialisation in bachelor’s in HR. She also completed her post-graduation in HR and all her experiences up until now also have been in HR. She loves to interact with people and get into the nitty gritty of HR and people itself drive and achieve her goals.
Many people join the Hospitality only to end up leaving it in a year or two. Ms Suborna shares the views on it, “I have seen a lot of people joining but what I noticed is that millennials want everything to be fast, even success; but that’s not how it works. Nowadays what I see in most of the people joining is that they lack patience. There are mainly two reasons that people quit the industry, its either because of the long working hours or the hard work. In this industry, if you are just starting out, you really have to grill yourself and some people don’t have the patience to give that much. But trust me, if you can give it your all, there is a tremendous scope for growth and learning. In my experience, the industry was booming pre-COVID and with hard work I have seen people achieve a lot in the industry.”
Every person trying or thinking to get into the hospitality industry has just one question. Do you always need a degree in hotel management to get into the hospitality industry? Have you always had that doubt? Ms Suborna made it all clear“Yes, definitely. We hire a lot of staff in the culinary, F&B Production, even in F&B service, housekeeping etc. There are so many departments where people without hospitality background have excelled. As I said earlier, with the right attitude and hunger to learn you can achieve success in any industry, no matter what position you are working at.”
Hospitality industry is famous for its work culture and environment of the people, it is a boon for people like Suborna who love meeting new people and are a people person. Suborna shares that they at the Raheja group has been ranked 16th as a great place to work recently and this was their first year of participation. In her experience of 11 years, what she has learnt is that the company needs to have positive work culture and also transparency between the management and employees is also of utmost importance. If you can’t communicate well, people start losing interest. Constant transparency in communication helps you create a positive environment. Another important thing is to share your business goals and updates on it. There are some companies which do not even share their business numbers or give the employees an idea about the future of the company. But if they define these goals and also give their employees growth opportunity, they can be sure that they have built a great work culture in the company. Experimentation is also a key factor in providing a positive work culture, if you let your employees experiment and support them if they go wrong, you are sure to add more points to the work culture.
The management is the key to providing the support that team is essentially looking for, and in most of the cases is transparent communication.
In the day to day operations, long working hours or even adjusting to various shifts is a challenge. Another challenge, especially in India is to meet guest expectations. It is definitely a task.
Earlier, hospitality industry had a traditional way of thinking and working but post COVID, people have started thinking differently. Now, the Indian hospitality industry is trying to match with the western countries and hence is focusing on introducing a lot of automation. Automation is precisely the key driver to overcome the difficulties of man power. For example, if you have a robotic cleaner to clean the common area or you invest in good machinery for laundry or for bakery. It will help you a lot. Also, the man power cost is increasing a lot in India, so instead of hiring in bulk now, it’s preferred to choose the right talent. So, instead of hiring 10 people, you can choose 5 people who are the right talent for the job and can multitask. The right investment in automation and in the right talent are the solutions to overcoming this difficulty. The mantra is to invest right to increase the production and overall quality.
Here is Ms Suborna’s message for every reader, “My message to all the millennials or people who are pursuing their hospitality is that I know that times are tough and there is a lot of confusion because of COVID but just have some patience and the industry will boom back and will regain its position or even be better.”