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Exclusive Interview | Tejas Lakhani, Head HR & Training, Holiday Inn Amritsar


Tejas Lakhani
Head HR & Training
Holiday Inn Amritsar 

&

Managing Quality for Hotel Guest experience for all Holiday Inn’s in India.






Editor: Tell us about your journey. How did it all start? 

 My Journey started at a beautiful hill station and hotel – Holiday Inn Gem Park Ooty (Formerly the only managed Holiday Inn in South West Asia). I also happened to be the First Management Trainee for IHG in South West Asia at the time and hence got to meet and interact with the key regional leadership team at that time.

Having a great leader and General Manager to work under, I got ample opportunity to be exposed to all areas of the hotel at all levels which literally made me a Jack of all at a very early stage. IHG always had great people strategies and processes in place and the idea of imparting this to our employees attracted me towards the training function.

Quality came as an add on due to my adaptability and mastery of all departments. I loved the concept of driving processes through people and hence got promoted to Asst Manager Quality & Training at the end of my 1 year management trainee programme. From there was no looking back. Next up was Quality manager as a part of the pre-opening team at the Holiday Inn Mumbai International Airport; the first refreshed Holiday Inn to be opened in India.

Being part of the pre-opening team gave me insight into the root levels of a hotel as we literally saw it going from stone to structure. And since then I have literally travelled and worked from Kashmir to Kanyakumari with IHG. I am currently the Human Resource and Training Manager at Holiday Inn Amritsar Ranjit Avenue also handling Quality for our hotel Guest experience for all Holiday Inn’s in India.

 Editor: What do you think it takes to succeed in this industry? 

Three things to be kept in mind can get you continued success in the Hospitality Industry

1) Confidence – To take up any challenge or role given to you.
2) Communication – Be it guests, employees or peers it is important to communicate effectively at all times. As this serves to be the life line of Hospitality. With a huge range of differing expectations it is critical to communicate and understand the other person’s expectations as well as your offering.
3) Adaptability and versatility – In our Industry, no day or customer is same from the previous.

Thus it is important to adapt yourself to the situation and customer at hand. Being flexible in your ways of working and keeping up with the current trend at all times serves to be the success mantra for our every changing industry.

 Editor: What are the attributes you look for while selecting or hiring? 

1) The right attitude and passion to be want to serve people with a smile.
2) Effective communication skills - as our industry thrives on delightful and confident interactions.
3) Personality and values that reflect and match the brand culture.

 Editor: What according to you can trainees do while they are training at hotels to make it a win-win for them & the hotel/unit? 

 1) Be a Sponge, ready to absorb and learn at all times, even beyond the task given to them.
2) Never say no attitude to the number and size of task assigned.

Training is what sets your base, what you learn now goes a long way. I still remember and refer to what I learnt during my training. Imagine being asked to polish 10 Full Racks of Hi Ball glasses in 20 Minutes was a nightmare then but a learning I can boast about today.

 Editor: Tell us a little about your average day 

My work day actually starts in the shower, when am already planning for my day ahead and thinking of the critical tasks. Start off with a steaming cup Black Coffee, swear by my morning coffee. Try to make it in office by 8.30, giving me time to first plan my day and catch up on urgent mails. Rest of the day generally goes through various meetings, trainings and projects.

Handling 3 roles simultaneously means I really have to divide my time well amongst the three functions. End up leaving Office by 8.00 pm, after which either catch up with friends or go home to read a book or watch a movie.

 Editor: How do keep abreast of all that is happening in hospitality? 

Subscribe to various websites such as eHotelier, Hospitality news resource, Linked In, Forbes and Social Media

 Editor: Two reasons why this industry is awesome! 

Diversity of the Industry, We don’t produce a batch of 1000 similar products, we instead serve 100 different people all with different expectations. I am the sort of person who gets bored easily and hence this industry is perfect for me where I am handling different situations and different tasks every day.

 Travel – I love to travel, and this industry allows you to see the world if you are willing to. I started my career on the southernmost tip of India – Ooty and today working at the northern most tip before the border – Amritsar. And have travelled extensively in between.

 Editor: Two things you would like to change about the industry. 

Bring about more unity and sharing amongst competitor hotels so that we can all be serving up to current guest expectations at a similar price instead of customer dictating price and product.