Women’s Day Special Interview with Ms Sonica Malhotra, Joint Managing Director, MBD Group

Mumbai/New Delhi: International Women Day is celebrated on 8th March every year across nations to highlight women’s achievements throughout history. On this occasion, SkillOutlook presents Women’s Day Special Interview with Ms Sonica Malhotra, Joint Managing Director, MBD Group.  Presently, the Joint Managing Director of MBD Group, Ms Sonica Malhotra is driving the Group by taking powerful strides into Hospitality, real estate, retail and mall development ventures. Being an energetic entrepreneur, she handles all the key projects from start to finish, right from project planning to pre-opening and post-opening of hotels and malls.

Ms Sonica Malhotra has been honored with the “Women Super achiever in Retail” award by the Asia Retail congress; “Amity Leadership Excellence Award”; “The Women Entrepreneur Of The Year” award by Franchise India; The CMO Council Marketing super achiever award; the Naari Shakti Sammaan by the Adhaar Foundation and the Kalpna Chawla award. She also got felicitated at THE ECONOMIC TIMES Business Knights – Punjab for her contribution to the Indian Economy.

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(1) What is the potential of hospitality sector for creating employment opportunities? 

Answer: The outlook for jobs in the hospitality sector is extremely positive considering a major thrust of government on promoting the travel and hospitality segment. Indian hospitality sector has emerged as one of the key drivers of growth for the services sector and a healthy growth curve has been influenced by increased inflow of foreign tourists as well as improved domestic tourist movement, which has led India to become a global player. The Indian services sector of which Hospitality is a major component has been the most vibrant contributor to the GDP. According to the Economic Survey 2015-16, the services sector contributed almost 66.1% of its gross value added growth in 2015-16. The sector also attracts the most FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) inflow and is the most important net foreign exchange earner.

(2) How women employees can leverage the emerging job opportunities in the hospitality sector?

Answer: The society in general has evolved to be more equal, one that opens up a level playing field for everyone to partake from irrespective of gender, caste, or creed. The hospitality sector has emerged to be one of the top attractions for job seekers as it offers a very secure environment to work in. This is especially true for women working in the hospitality sector. In establishments that require women to work outside the normal 9 to 5 working hours, such as in hotels and restaurants etc the employers provide for pick up and drop facility for the safety and convenience of its women employers. As a result many success stories of women have emerged from the hospitality sector, which might not have been possible earlier. The success stories of women such as, Kanika Hasrat General Manager, Taj Hotel; Manisha Bhasin Senior Executive Chef at the ITC Hotels and Nishtha Kapoor ‎Associate Director of Finance at Marriott International, etc are truly inspiring and a motivation for more women to leverage available opportunities in the hospitality sector and scale the heights of success.

(3)What skill sets are required in the hospitality industry?

Answer: The biggest skill set to begin with is the willingness to serve. The person should continuously endeavor to enhance capability to deal with guests and offer the highest level of services. He should be hard working, have passion to work, self disciplined and have high level of integrity at all times. And also, as the person goes further up in his career, he doesn’t have to stick to the hospitality education. He can pursue a management course from a reputed college, like Harvard University, INSEAD, Cornell University, etc., which will help him move from plain vanilla position to unit heads/CEOs or MDs of companies.

(4)Can you provide some tips for students planning to enter hospitality sector?

Answer: Hospitality industry is extremely competitive and volatile. There is a need to retain clientele and at the same time, increase profitability, which compels management professionals to constantly strive to improve guest satisfaction and revenues. If the students pursue management training programme from a reputed hotel chain, it gives them an excellent growth opportunity. It also gives them a clear idea of which department to actually choose, excel and grow up in their career. That’s a good entry level strategy for people in hotel industry.

(5) What kind of courses is available for students to enter hospitality sector?

Answer: There are various courses available for students who want to pursue career in the hospitality segment. Some hotel management colleges in India offer a number of certificate and craftsmanship courses in cookery, bakery, food and beverage services and bartending which the students can pursue after class 10. However, the duration for these courses may vary between 3 weeks to 2 years. There are several other courses on offer in the undergraduate and the post graduate (degree and diploma) levels. The Bachelors in Hotel Management (B.H.M.) degree is the most popular undergraduate course offered by most hotel management colleges in the country.

(6) How MBD group is addressing skill gaps in their hospitality business segment?

Answer: MBD Group has launched a unique learning and development curriculum called Management and Supervisory Development Programme in hospitality aiming to bring out the best of the leaders of tomorrow. The objective of the curriculum is to cover operational, behavioural and leadership lessons which seek to bring wisdom, operational excellence and overall self-satisfaction to all its learning associates.

(7) Can you brief about your hiring plan in the near future in the MBD’s hospitality business segment?

Answer: The MBD Group has successfully established itself in the Hospitality industry through its maiden venture, The Radisson Blu MBD Hotel, Noida (Delhi NCR). The second venture of the group is the Radisson Blu Hotel Ludhiana which is the first 5 star deluxe hotel in Ludhiana.

MBD Group and Deutsche Hospitality, the largest German chain of hotels and resorts have recently announced a joint venture to manage and franchise hotels under the brand “MBD STEIGENBERGER” for the Indian Territory. MBD Steigenberger brand, in-line with the international positioning of the Steigenberger brand, shall be positioned to target the luxury segment in India, a segment that is expected to grow at an extremely fast pace in India. We aim at hiring a lot of senior resources from the hospitality industry as well as fresh talent for the upcoming projects.

(8)  How do you keep a balance between your personal and professional life?

Answer: The best part is that I and my husband have a great level of understanding. Instead of quantity time, we try to spend quality time together and ensure that we have an hour long coffee session every Sunday, irrespective of whatever engagements we have. We both respect each other’s professions and continuously motivate one another to follow our passion.

(9)  What do you prefer doing in your leisure time?

Answer: For me education is an ultimate stress buster. On a personal level, continuous learning is about the constant expansion of skill-sets through learning and increasing knowledge. I truly recommend that one should keep enhancing the professional skills and come rejuvenated to take on new projects and assignments throughout the life. In my leisure time, I like spending time with friends and family, workout and go for spa to keep myself rejuvenated.

(10) How Skill India campaign is helping hospitality industry in India?      

Answer: The Skill India Campaign is a renewed effort by the govt. to capitalize on India’s demographic divide and create a large pool of skilled workforce in India. In the hospitality segment, the Skill India Campaign will make the training efforts more systematic and will ensure a professionally skilled workforce capable of meeting the industry demands. We have recently launched a new vertical ‘MBD Skills’ with the aim of bridging the gap between the supply and demand of skilled manpower. We are currently working on various government projects like Hunar se Rozgar – Ministry of Tourism, UDAAN – NSDC for Jammu & Kashmir, MEPMA – Andhra Pradesh & Telangana, etc. With this initiative, the company aims to train around 1 million people by 2022.

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