A lady connected with me on the Indian Women in Hospitality platform. She wrote to me and we exchanged numbers and got talking. Generally people tell me that it’s a wonderful platform and that they are glad to be a part of it, but Ms. Hema Manghnani wanted to speak with me and she told me all of that and so much more. It was extremely motivating for me as the reason behind IWH is just this connecting, ideating, mentoring, empowering and learning from each other. We got to know so much about each other, I was impressed with her journey from being a Front Desk operator to the Executive Director of a leading B2B travel company Travstarz Global Group. I wanted to have her story on IWH and I expressed it to her, she was gracious enough to accept that and I am so happy to have the inspirational story of the lady from the Travel and Tourism fraternity.
She shared the highlights of her career – scaling heights from being a Front Desk Operator to Executive Director. Her story in her own words for our readers:
Coming from Hyderabad, to the city of dreams Bombay back in 97, started my career from being a front desk operator. Yes, it wasn’t was easy path had lot of challenges and as they say you get lucky when you are at the right place at the right time. I remember very well my than boss Ms. Hutokshi Marker who saw something in me and said you are cut out for being in sales team and I got promoted from operators desk job to sales. Since then there was no looking back.
I learnt my first lesson, that if ever I become a boss leading a team, I will recognise the talents of the team and mentor them, train them and give all tools for them to grow.
My journey to Europe , I had a challenge to leave all what I achieved in Mumbai and I moved to Budapest. Here I was in a beautiful city with my lap top and myself. Because of my connections in travel I thought I will first take care a FIT travel but to my surprise my first booking was 80 pax group back in 2004 where many Indians didn’t know where Hungary was in the map nor the Hungarians knew what kind of big market Indian traveller is.
But as they say, every problem comes with a solution, not only the group was successful but through word of mouth was asked to repeat similar itinerary and in that year had 6 – 7 groups anywhere between 80 – 150 pax.
Lesson learnt here is, no matter how big the problem / challenges are one needs to break down in parts and look for a solution.
Not only we organised groups in Budapest but extended to Eastern Europe and started 4 DMC offices, which I sold off.
Journey to USA was for about 4 years, as they say a baker knows how to bake a cake wherever he is, so was I, I started again DMC operation in Orlando and that’s when brand USA had first time entered Indian market and first time participated in SATTE, I was lucky enough to be associated with visit Florida, did with them the road show in north and participated in SATTE. and I could stand back and became an east coast specialist.
Lesson learnt here is passion of what you want to do and hard work and dedication is required. rest all will fall in place.
Honestly there is nothing more important than your family. No matter how much ever you are successful and rich nothing compares to family. I had to leave all, to come back to India for my dad after my mom passed away.
Again back to square one to start all over again. as they say no matter how many times you get knocked down, get back and stand up.
Was lucky that within 10 days back in India, I could grab a job in one of the most known travel exhibition company, Fairfest media which organises TTF and OTM one of the biggest exhibition in India. Which again got me connected to Indian travel agents this time not Mumbai or Delhi but pan India. Mr Sanjiv Agarwal who is the chairman and owner of the company I had a learnt lot from him and the Fairfest team.
That’s when I met a beautiful couple Mr. Pankaj Nagpal and Ms. Sucheta Nagpal. who were like a family to me whilst I was in Delhi. An opportunity opened up and I joined their company Travstarz Global group.
Today when I stop and look back I am who I am, because of the places I travelled, the experiences I gained, the emotions I felt and most importantly the choices I made.
We had to know much more about her so we got chatting with her, she gladly answered our questions.
IWH: Tell us something about you, your growing up years, life through school, college etc.
Hema: I was total tom boy and a very naughty kid. Never studied, in fact used to hate studies and was a back bencher. But was very actively involved with all school activities or any kind of social activity work. I would say an average in studies but absolute extrovert in terms of voicing my opinions or standing up for a cause.
IWH: What made you select Hospitality/ tourism as a career? Was it easy making that decision?
Hema: It was actually luck by chance, I had got married early at the age of 18, and moved to Mumbai. I honestly was not ready for the responsibilities in those times. In fact my MIL noticed it and she said why don’t you do some course that interests you and I saw an ad of IATA course, so I said I want to do IATA course and since then there was no looking back.
IWH: What is your current role?
Hema: I am now Executive Director for Travstarz Global Group, which in one of the leading B2B travel company.
IWH: How has your professional journey been so far? Pros, cons etc?
Hema: Honestly a roller coaster ride, that was one journey where my career graph was always moving upwards. Evolving me to the person I am today. Travel honestly evolves oneself. One needs to be passionate about the work they do and perseverance to grow oneself and the company he/she owns/works has to be there. There would be many challenges but how one changes adversities to opportunity is very important.
IWH: Who has been your mentor or a role model? In what way has that person helped you?
Hema: My mentor / role model always been my mom for a simple reason she lived her life on her terms. Never got discouraged with the life challenges, always was very positive and her bigger strength was she used to easily forget and forgive the person who caused her pain and she used to love to feed one and all. So I learnt life’s major keys,
IWH: What have been the high points of your career/ life? Highlight at least 3.
IWH: What challenges have you faced as a woman in the industry? How did you deal with them?
Hema: I wouldn’t say them challenges, I would rather put it as stepping stone to elevate myself and to learn. When I look back I did make some mistakes and honestly got no regrets and learnt my lessons. Always I followed my gut feeling and my inner voice as and when I was in a situation.
IWH: If there was anything that you could change about your life or career what would that be?
Hema: NOTHING, I am glad it happened the way it happened. I am what I am today with the choices I made, the places I travelled and experiences I gained.
IWH: What do you think of IWH?
Hema: It’s really good platform connecting and networking with the professional women from Travel and hospitality industry. And learning and understanding different views.
IWH: Your advice to the young professionals and students.
Hema: Whatever work / field you choose, you got to be passionate about that!