They say to grow one needs support and bandwidth, Benaifer has been that in the journey of the IWH, Indian Women in hospitality. She brings in a lot of positivity, enthusiasm and energy on the board. The lady who has worked her way and contributed immensely to the growth of the organizations that she has been a part of. She heads sales and marketing in her current role, travelling is a passion for her. I can say that a lot of her wisdom comes from that passion. IWH in conversation with Ms. Benaifer Kapadia.
IWH: Tell us something about you, your growing up years, life through school, college etc
They say “learning is not a spectator sport”. I am a learner till date. I believe “Experience” is the most brutal of all teachers. But you learn & that’s how you grow as a better individual. I have always been an above average student (academically). Coming from an all girls convent alma mater, where rolling your socks down was considered offensive, to the much forward thinking college phase, where bunking was my mandatory right (I did not exercise that much though!) to the hustle and bustle of corporate life… it has been a semi circle! Each phase is and was a learning curve. And it is here where I quote my favourite learning which is “To Be Old and Wise, You must be Young & Stupid!”… I trust I am over being stupid (it’s a habit hard to break for most individuals) and continue being Young!! Old and Wise is yet to come!
IWH: What made you select Hospitality as a career? Was it easy making that decision?
My inclination to be a part of the hospitality industry started from college. By education I am a Bachelor of Commerce with Honors in Travel & Tourism Management. To be honest, I wanted to avoid a subject that is dear to most of us – “taxation”! Enrolling for travel and tourism was not all hunky dory! Like any other subject I had to prove my eligibility for it. I was always intrigued to educate myself on & about Indian tourism, world socio-economics in hospitality, diverse cultures, languages, maps, people engagement and food and beverage. It is inspiring to note that inspite of the vast disparity in economy, tourism sector contributes 4.6% to the GDP growth of India and successfully continues to grow in near future
IWH: What is your current role?
I am currently employed with General Hotels Management Limited (GHM) as Director of Sales & Marketing for The Chedi Mumbai, India. The Chedi Mumbai will be India & the city’s newest and most highly anticipated luxury hotel opening its doors to guests in 2018. Set to transform the Powai region in Mumbai into an epicentre of style and indulgence, the hotel is strategically located in close proximity to the international & domestic airports, to IIT Powai, to commercial business districts established in North Mumbai and Bandra Kurla Complex. The hotel will feature 312 luxurious guestrooms and suites, a Club Lounge for exclusive use by club & suite guests, seven exceptional and innovative dining and entertainment offerings, extensive meeting facilities with state-of-the-art equipment and technology, a holistic spa and wellness facilities. For more information about The Chedi Mumbai, please visit www.GHMhotels.com
IWH: How has your hospitality journey been so far? Pros, cons etc?
I think I am still too young to say I have started my journey yet as such. Or at least I like to think so. Hospitality is an evolving industry where no one day is similar or routine to another. That is the beauty of this sector. Don’t take one day at a time and live out your life. Wake up every morning, and live your life right, your way – not the way anyone else would. Make mistakes, learn when you do and treat others (be that guests or employees) like you would like to be treated. There are no set pros and cons for this sector. I see more opportunities arising for an evolving and fast moving industry such as ours, and I
IWH: Who has been your mentor or a role model? In what way has that person helped you?
My parents have and always continue to be my biggest mentors. They instilled in me the value of hard work and dedication.
IWH: What have been the high points of your career? Highlight at least 3.
I would highlight the best of 3 to be:
(1) Working with Hyatt International as a pre-opening team member to open the prestigious flag-ship hotel in South Asia, Grand Hyatt Mumbai. This hotel strengthened my foundation of the 4 Ps of sales and marketing
(2) Working with Carlson Rezidor (now Radisson Hotel Group) that excelled my career growth thru the ranks & exposed me to business development and global sales
(3) Now working with GHM Hotels as a pre-opening executive committee member to open The Chedi Mumbai, India that shall dominate Mumbai’s dynamic skyline with its sophisticated and thoughtful offerings & prove to be a game-changing luxury hotel for Mumbai
IWH: What challenges have you faced as a woman in the industry? How did you deal with them?
Statistics from a recent HR report suggest that departments that have been less than successful at promoting women into leadership positions are also unsuccessful at recruiting women. I personally do not support this regressive thought. My sister, Shehrezad Kapadia, Chef De Cuisine, Four Seasons Mumbai is a young, successful, senior lady chef managing and co-working with a team of female and mostly male chefs. I strongly believe that there are many more noted companies in the hospitality world that are doing a good job & creating more diversity in the industry with no or minimal gender inequality
IWH: If there was anything that you could change about your life or career what would that be?
‘Gardens without dead leaves are not beautiful. Even the Moon has black spots on it’. So while I have a list of to-do’s that I would like to amend and hope that I will be able to do it in my onward and present journey, I am currently satisfied with who and where I am with a hope to be a better version of who and where I want to be!
IWH: What do you think of IWH?
We have diverse team strength of ladies that bring together years of experience & hard work. It is a great platform to connect and collaborate, to bring new ideas to the world of travel and hospitality, that not only benefit the industry and also the individual(s) associated with this sector
IWH: Your advice to the young professionals and students
Our industry is well known for its long and rigorous hours of work. My advice to young professionals will be that time is one of your most valuable resources. You use time to make money, but the time will come when you will need to start using money to buy yourself time to do the things you want to do. We have to learn the art of time management.
IWH: Anything else you wish to share with our readers?
I would like to share the below quote from the great JRD Tata who is the founder of hospitality in India. He says and I quote “Common people have an appetite for food; uncommon people have an appetite for service”! Athiti Devo Bhava!
We couldn’t thank her enough for her time and having a great conversation. We look forward to another coffee break with her. As we leave we wish her many more fulfilling travels around the globe and meaningful journeys in her professional and personal lives.