“We’re in the business of happiness. If we can keep our employees happy, we don’t need to worry about our guests.”
* Four Seasons Tenure: Since October 2010
First Four Seasons Assignment: Hotel Manager, Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai
* Employment History: Oberoi Delhi, Trident Bhubaneswar, Taj Exotica, Renaissance
* Birthplace: Panjim, Goa, India
* Education: Management Program, IMIS College, Bhubaneswar, India; Degree in Hotel Management, Goa, India
* Languages Spoken: English, Hindi
Rizwan Shaikh, hotel manager of Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai, laughs as he recalls the way, at eight years old, he used to make arbitrary decisions for his whole family: “I’d order for everyone when we were in a restaurant. It wasn’t appreciated, but I was convinced I had a sixth sense, so I did it anyway.”
These days, Rizwan’s leadership qualities are altogether more refined and his approach, infinitely more sensitive. “I’m very participative,” he explains. “I give a lot of respect to the individuals I work with – every contribution is valued, everyone made to feel part of the process.” Just as high on the committed manager’s checklist is the ability to trust – even if that involves taking a bit of a risk. “You get much better results than when you just direct people,” he confers.
A general manager at 32 (of the Trident Bhubaneswar), Rizwan’s own results speak for themselves. His wholehearted approach to every single job he does has seen him pack more challenges and responsibility into his 15-year managerial career than most could fit into a lifetime. “I’ve always taken on everything I could,” he says matter-of-factly. “The quality of your own experience is proportionate to the challenges and responsibility you successfully shoulder. I used to be in a lot of soup, getting cooked all the time, but it’s the only way to learn.”
Further keys to Rizwan’s success are his strong creative streak and refusal to ever blindly accept the status quo. He believes that challenging the way things are done is the only way to make them better. To fully immerse in his creativity, he heads to the kitchen, “the only place where you can use all your senses” – but in typical Shaikh-style, there’s more to it than meets to eye. “I think people who cook more have more common sense,” he explains, referring to cooking’s unique multi-sensory combination of creative thought and its practical application. As usual, he may be onto something.