I first saw her during my internship at the Taj Mahal Hotel Mumbai in the year 1995. In Fact it was the dressing room and I was wearing my uniform saree, struggling a bit with it and in the mirror I saw a lady in business suit looking really smart and I felt that awe for her. One- she looked so comfortable and two; she didn’t typically fit into the Taj mould that had saree clad lady staff members. We just smiled at each other, she was occupied in her thoughts; probably was making the day’s plan in her mind. I found out about her and learnt that she was the Manager in the Food and Beverage department. Many of us looked up to her as a role model. Met her again recently at the Taj Reunion; it was great to catch up after ages, filling in the gaps and learning about the updates. I also used the opportunity to request her if I could feature her story on this platform. Hers has been more than incredible. She has had a very rewarding and illustrious career with the Taj. It is my honour to share with the readers the inspiring story of Ms. Ashrafi Matcheswala, General Manager at President – IHCL SeleQtions.
She embarked on her professional journey with the Taj Group of Hotels, starting her career as a Catering Assistant in 1981 at the flagship property the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower. During this association with the Taj Group, she has held numerous key positions for over 35 years. She worked her way through the supervisory and managerial ranks, eventually heading the Food and Beverage department at the Taj President. She was a part of the 1991 pre- opening team for Taj Exotica Goa; then she returned to the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower before taking her first Resident Manager position at the Taj Lands End in Mumbai.
She was promoted as the General Manager at the Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur in 2005. She created awareness and enhanced the brand image of Lake Palace in the international market as well as launched their holistic Ayurveda Jiva Grand Spa. At Taj Wellington Mews, Ms. Matcheswala oversaw the construction of the only helipad atop a residential building in Mumbai.
She has worked at Vivanta by Taj- President as Food and Beverage Manager, Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur and Taj Wellington News Mumbai as General Manager, before moving to San Francisco to helm the Taj Campton Place.
Ms. Matcheswala has an MBA from Swiss Hotel Association’s Les Roches School of Hotel Management in Switzerland and has attended a Cornell University sponsored Hotel Management Program in Mumbai.
In her illustrious career, Ms. Ashrafi Matcheswala has emerged as a goal oriented leader with excellent customer relations. She is loved for her qualities in supporting and inspiring her team to carry out their responsibilities with passion and flair. Her allegiance towards the Taj Group has made her an indispensable part of the Taj success story.
A true believer in fitness, she follows a strict regime of running and participating in marathons with an aim to outdo her own records. She is passionate about healthy work-life balance. An avid explorer, she likes to dine in new places and visit new destinations that help her connect with different cultures. She is also an ardent philatelist. Her favourite holiday destination is Maui, Hawaii and her favourite cuisine is Chinese. She says if she was a spice, she’d be ‘tamarind’ – familiar, yet unexpected!
The Early Life
Ashrafi is a Bombay girl. Her family comprises of her parents who have been a strong support for her. They always encouraged her to follow her heart and give her best in whatever she took up. And she has done just that; in fact a lot more!
She did her schooling from the Alexandra Girls School, Mumbai and her Higher Secondary from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. As a child, she was fascinated by hotels. Her cousin had completed the program from IHM Mumbai, and then joined the Taj Mahal Hotel; she decided to follow her footsteps and pursued Hotel Management from the prestigious Institute of Hotel Management, Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition, Mumbai. Taking it further she too embarked on her professional journey with the Taj.
Later in her career she got an opportunity to study at Les Roches in Switzerland; Her organization the Taj Group sponsored her for the Masters program in Hotel Management.
Awards/ Accolades/ Recognition
Accolades and Achievements as the General Manager, President, Mumbai.
Awards in 2018
Awards in 2017
Key Highlights in Taj Campton Place San Francisco
Key Highlights at Taj Wellington Mews
General Manager of the 80 room Luxury Service Apartments in June 2006.
Key Highlights at Taj Lake Palace Udaipur
General Manager of the 83 room palace hotel in April 2005.
Conceptualizing and creating the the following signature Restaurant of the Taj –
Strategic Management :
Model guidelines and criteria.
We had a few questions for Ms. Matcheswala which she graciously answered. A career spanning almost four decades encompasses so much knowledge and valuable experiences, we feel really privileged to have got some insights from her.
IWH: What have been the high points of your career?
Ms. Ashrafi Matcheswala: Various Key F&B Management roles at Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, Mumbai , Taj Exotica, Goa and the Taj President, Mumbai.
IWH: Who have been your mentors?
Ms. Matcheswala: I count Mr. Farhat Jamal and Ms. Shirin Batliwala among my top mentors. Have learnt from many all along my professional journey.
IWH: What challenges have you faced as a woman in the industry?
Ms. Matcheswala: None, IHCL lives by Tata values that is complete non tolerance towards any prejudice and non-discriminative and hence my loyalty for the last 36 years.
IWH: What do you think of IWH?
Ms. Matcheswala: IWH is an excellent platform for Indian women in the hospitality industry which is a common belief – “purpose with performance”
IWH: Your advice to the young professionals and students.
Ms. Matcheswala: Hospitality Industry involves passion and only if you are passionate and care for people you will be able to surpass initial challenges in the hospitality industry there after you would groom to become a leader.
IWH: Anything else that you’d like to share.
Ms. Matcheswala: It’s been almost four decades in the hospitality industry and IHCL, I have had the fortune to work at flag ships and across geographies. But there is one thing I have carried in my life and that is to be humble. Humility will get you to where ever you want and being compassionate to people is the key.
Ms. Ashrafi Matcheswala exudes the Taj hospitality- She has contributed so much to the Tajness that the world celebrates.