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Hospemag Talks To Sandip Mukherjee, General Manager, Vivanta by Taj - Rebak Island Langkawi

Editor: Tell us about your journey. How did it all start? 
I started off trying to be a naval officer and landed up in this business. In the 70's when this industry still did not have much of a credibility as a lifestyle vocation for life, my mother who was always extremely clued on to happenings in and around, egged me on to this course of study. I soon realised that ' service before self ' - which was the motto of my alma mater - the RIMC in Doon, can also be applied as a philosophy in the civil segment of life.

Editor: What do you think it takes to succeed in this industry? 
Hard work - hard work and hard work. A hunger for learning and the passion for adventure. And a bit of luck. Editor: What are the attributes you look for while selecting or hiring? Culture and background. Attitude for service. Education in a hospitality school helps - but not strictly.

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? 
Request for training in as many departments if they have the opportunity. Train long hours and seek a mentor who can guide them through this initial tough phase of work life.

Editor: Tell us a little about your average day 
No different from many of my colleagues around the world I suppose. Up at around eight - reach hotel by quarter to nine, check the previous night's log from the reception, meet guests at breakfast area, catch up with colleagues from the kitchen and services and do a quick 15 minute standing meeting with my team at around 10. Then on - it is a round robin of meeting up guests, checking rooms and public areas, spending time with my colleagues at various offices etc., Mails are normally cleared on the go while some important ones are attended to as per need. Post lunch some meetings which are an absolute necessity are conducted as also training sessions for staff in conjunction with our training coordinator.
I take a break to work out post 530 pm and by 8 I am back to catch up with resort guests during dinner. This is also a good time to check a few turn down rooms and chat up with my housekeeping staff. By 10 - 1030 in the evening it is time to call it a day and I normally watch a movie or a television programme or read a book - this is my time!

Editor: How do keep abreast of all that is happening in hospitality? 
Many of my trainer friends and colleagues across the globe keep sending me industry happenings and trends. When physically possible I attend new hotel openings and do site visits of all types of properties at every location to learn how they are keeping abreast of guest needs and what they are doing different in shaping the future of our business. I also make sure that I participate in hospitality industry associations in most destinations that I work in - if not taking up leadership roles in them. That helps me to be in touch with many industry leaders and get an insight into their nature of business and their particular styles.

Editor: Two reasons why this industry is awesome! 
Forever young and in the forefront of shaping lifestyles - this industry is the place to be in if you wish to be a world citizen.
Two - There are no closing hours and I love that!

Editor: Two things you would like to change about the industry. 
Male domination - I strongly believe women with their strong instincts in hospitality need to come in and take the lead. For too long have we taken the lead and it is time for a role reversal. I also believe we should pay justly for the abnormal numbers of hours that we subject our staff to - in the name of service. The pay just does not seem right - across the industry, and is heavily skewed towards the top end of management.