In this interview with, Dhananjay Kumar, General Manager at The Suryaa, New Delhi shared his vast experience of hospitality industry. Enjoy Reading. 

Tell us something about yourself?

I am from Ranchi, the capital city of Jharkhand. I did my schooling at St. John School, Ranchi. I did hotel management and after completing my degree, I started working with the Hyatt Delhi, after two years I got promoted and moved to Hyatt Dubai. I have been trained at Hyatt London. In overall I’ve twenty-four years of experience with brands such as Hyatt, Park Royal, Oberoi, Shangri La, The Claridges and Hilton. I have represented India thrice in the sommelier’s contest. I have visited France in 2005, Scotland in 2007, Spain in 2008. France was a great learning.

From where have you done Hotel Management?

I have done hotel management from IISM, Ranchi. I have done my industrial training with the Oberois.

What motivated you to join hospitality industry?

I was the first one to join this industry in my family.My college director used to stay at my house and told me to join this industry. It was pretty tough in the beginning because you starts as a waiter, you do all sorts of work like stewarding, housekeeping attendant’s job. After doing hotel management I joined Hyatt Regency as a waiter and became a captain in two years. I was awarded best employee of the year and was sent to London in two different Hyatt to get exposure. I was certified as a departmental trainer and got into Hyatt Dubai.

I opened a nightclub called “Float” in Park Royal Delhi. From there I moved to Oberoi Hotels, I joined a banquet manager. I moved to Oberoi Towers Mumbai and became Assistant Food and Beverage Manager.I worked with the Oberoi for about five years. I was also responsible to hire OCLD recruits. I moved to Shangri La, New Delhi as Food and Beverage Head. In 2005 I represented India and went to France.

Then I moved to The Claridges, New Delhi and worked as Food and Beverage Director. Then I moved into consulting, I did Hospitality Vertical Consulting as principle consutant. Then I moved to Hilton, Chennai as Food and  Beverage Head and worked there for about two years. After Hilton, I moved to Raddison, Chennai as General Manager. I later moved to Surya Hotel as a Resident Manager. I moved to Raddison, New Delhi and worked as a General Manager. I moved back to The Surya, New Delhi where I am currently working.

A lot of students complain that they are not treated well by the hotel staff during the period of industrial training. What according to you could be the reason?

I completely agree that in some unfortunate cases this happens. I think working staff of the hotel should treat the student with leniency . I think the supervisor should guide them because in the beginning it is very tough. The depression through which a student goes after his first industrial training can be very immense and this is the reason behind the massive drop-out in the hospitality college.

So I think the supervisor should treat the students well. I suggest that General Manager of every hotel should make sure that the environment regarding learning in the hotels should be healthy and fit for the students. There should be a buddy system in every hotel through which the students could facilitate their earning.

The working hours of industrial training make the students frustrated. What are your views on this matter?

We ensure in our hotel that nobody works more than nine hours. In every organisation, there has to process wherein the performance of trainees should be assessed. Communication between trainee and training manager should be facilitated to ensure that learning is good and also problem-related to working hours and weekly off should be addressed.

How should we tackle the problem of Sexual Harassment in the Hospitality Industry?

It used to be there but not anymore. Every organisation now has a Sexual Harassment Committee. They provide education the employees relating to such harassments. They also take stringent actions against those found guilty. We ensure that women empowerment is very important. In our hotel most of the HODs are women. We have a communication meeting taking place which is initiated and driven by the HR head.

What are attributes you look for in a candidate while hiring?

We just hire for their attitude and train them for skills. If any potential candidates who need to work in the front of the house need to have good communication skills and positive attitude. Willingness to learn is more important. We don`t look at much of the technical aspect, as long as the student is having good coomunication skill and positive attitude he will be welcomed.

How you judge the positive attitude of a student?

We judge the positive attitude of a student from their body language and their confidence level because a lot of things is communicated to ones body language. We also look for situation handling skills.

What would be your parting message to the students?

I would recommend them that they should not give up. The hospitality industry is diversified. When you do hotel management you are not restricted to just hotels. You can go to travel trade, you can manage QSRs, you can work in ships. Once you do hotel management, you are multi-skilled. Be proactive in your approach to learn. Ask questions whenever needed.