Being a woman in the hospitality industry is no easy task. But then again, women are known to go against all odds and achieve what they aspire right?
Meet 15 women who are taking the food industry by a storm. Their passion and dedication has made them reach where they are today. I’d like to call them game-changers; they make their own rules every day! Read on as they share their mantras to success, sources of inspiration, their role in the hospitality industry and lots more.
Manmeet Vohra believes success requires an almost obsessive quest for perfection. “The ability to withstand pressure and not crack under it as well as the urge to pre-empt every possibility has been my mantra for a fulfilling professional life.” She is currently Director – Marketing & Category at Tata Starbucks India Pvt. Ltd.
Celebrity Chef Rakhee Vaswani who is also the Owner of Palate Culinary Studio is inspired by quotes coined by phenomenal women like Margaret Thatcher & Mother Teresa who flew leaps and bounds to change the world around them for the better:
‘Any woman who understands the problem of running a home will be nearer to the problems of running a country.’ – Margaret Thatcher.
‘I know god will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that he didn’t trust me so much.’ – Mother Teresa.
“I think women are extremely passionate, empathetic and are good multitaskers as a whole. These qualities come to women almost naturally and display great strength at home and at work,” says Divyangana Srivastava, Director of Human Resources, JW Marriott Mumbai Juhu. According to her, women have the power to evaluate a situation from both sides and a ‘never say no attitude’ which makes them extremely cherished as a part of a team. “It is for these reasons that many corporates and multinationals are working towards developing special programmes and welfare schemes for women,” she further adds.
Ms. Thea Tammeleht – Owner and Founder of Nordic Kandie and Chocolat Delicatessen:
“WOW! Being a woman already sounds awesome. Given the fact that nature decided we are the ones who get cradle life within us and that we help families prosper when we have a role in decision-making, we add beauty to life! Being a woman is the most satisfying gift that nature has given us.”
“Women are to hospitality born. It is a natural extension of who we are hence women fit like gloves in the hospitality industry. The challenges, then on, are aplenty but then that is the case for women in almost all industries,” says Neha Gundecha – Director Jeon, Hotel Sea Princess.
Nishtha Kapoor says, “In the hospitality industry, where hard work, spirit, and energy trump degrees, if you are willing to put in the time, which is easier said than done – you should have no obstacles. You do need to be willing to go where the opportunities are. The more flexible you are, the better.” As Finance Manager, Jaipur Marriott Hotel, she feels that opportunities for women in the hospitality industry have begun to expand exponentially at every level, ranging from floor supervisors to executive board members. “Every career can be challenging to a woman, but it is up to you to step up to the occasion and work past the biases,” she further adds.
Hard work and perseverance is Ayushi Shah, Owner and Head Chef, Icing On Top’s mantra to success. Just like most other women, she too faced many challenges when she stepped into the industry. “When I started baking, this was an unusually male dominated profession. Going out to trade shows and food exhibitions was always quite annoying, because most vendors would either classify you as a ‘home-baker’ or ask for a senior male authority or aapke papa kahan hain. But knowing that you’re an all-rounded personality can make you capable of doing whatever you want as long as you have the will power and need to achieve it,” she says.
Shalini Thomas, Associate Director of Sales, Sofitel Mumbai BKC swears by the quote –
“Two things define you: Your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything.”
She says, “I have stuck by these words throughout the journey of my career and it has helped me thrive, not only in the industry, but also in an otherwise “male dominated” world. It singles out two apt situations – one that demands patience, right at the beginning of your career and the next how you treat those around at your peak.” One of the most important lessons she has learnt is to remain humble to her fellow colleagues and subordinates as she realizes the struggle every individual goes through to attain credit and recognition. “I think my patience and attitude define who I am today, and have helped me gain the respect of many, not only as Associate Director of Sales at Sofitel Mumbai BKC, but primarly, as a woman in the hospitality industry,” she concludes.
“Women are the heart of the kitchen at every household, its nice to see new names emerging on the food market but we need more women to join the force and break the myth that the kitchen is a male dominated field,” says Aarathi Arambhan- Curator of MeSoHappi and The Captain’s Table. She also feels that in the restaurant space, there are always challenges; especially when it comes to woman in the industry but as long as one faces it, learns from it and keeps moving forward – nothing else matters! According to her, the best part about being a woman is the ability to be empathetic, caring, and perceptive and to have a keen eye for detail.
Lolita Sarkar, Creative Chef & Founder, Desi Deli started her tiny little cafe in Bandra after making films. Understanding a new industry with all its joys and pains was quite intimidating for her. But today, Desi Deli is one of the most popular cafes in the city. “We have gone through the stress of setting up and there’s great joy when our food and service gets appreciated,” she says. Upon being asked what it feels like to be a woman, she says, “We get more colours to choose from, more jewellery to buy…But jokes aside – men or women – the best part is when you can live who you are to the fullest.”
Megha Agarwal, Owner, The Corner Courtyard in Kolkata believes in Margaret Thatcher’s famous quote – “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people that you are, you aren’t.”
“Today, women have grown to be more individualistic and tend to find jobs and roles they are passionate about. They are extremely hard working and put in long hours with gusto. Over the past few years, women have made inroads in the hospitality industry and 70.4% of them in the industry would recommend their employers to other women,” says Radhika Tata, Associate Director of Sales, Novotel Imagica Khopoli (the property has witnessed a large female presence in the upper management and have a ratio of 28% of women recruited with 3 ladies heading departments).
Krithika Pajewar, Assistant Restaurant Manager, Grand Mercure Goa Shrem Resort always wanted to head the culinary & service department and is striving hard to do so. “Women are now quite actively involved in the industry and are being recognized for their efforts. They also hold higher positions in the industry which was quite a task earlier.” At Grand Mercure Goa Shrem Resort, her male colleagues pamper the women by buying them drinks.
Ms. Shweta Sharma, Director of Sales, Meetings & Events, Novotel Hyderabad Convention Centre and HICC believes that the hospitality industry can be quite challenging but a lot of fun too – “The challenge with the hospitality industry is the extensive hours, which tests your work-personal life balancing skills. The key lies in optimal time management and focusing on each aspect without compromising on any one. Although this might seem difficult, one can take back loads of cherished memories and experiences from this industry.”
Also on Polka Cafe – http://www.polkacafe.com/powerful-women-in-hospitality-industry-2518.html