Edge 2021- Bridging the industry academia gap

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Edge 2021- Bridging the industry academia gap

Pandemic has impacted all sectors and hospitality has been the most affected. This in turn has hit the hospitality education. Though online classes are on and colleges are doing their best to conduct practicals but an integral component of the course which is the internship has not been possible due to remote learning model adapted by hospitality colleges.

Almost 6 Lakh students graduate every year from different hotel management colleges and vocational institutes, however more than 93% of them had not been to a proper industry exposure in the last 1.5 years due to pandemic. Few glaring differences that came up due to non-exposure to a proper industrial training were:

  • Lack of practical knowledge in a hotel environment
  • Lack of social skills and professional etiquettes at workplace
  • Limited understanding of the functions in hotel and the multiple changes that took place in the hotel operations due to the pandemic.

Addressing this issue Encovate partnered with IWH to host EDGE2021 that has set the stage for redesigning the Indian hospitality education. This was a Flagship event of Encovate, a SkillTech startup focused in Hospitality, offering blended and outcome based learning solutions.

Team – EDGE2021

Ms. Avril Sule, Certified Hospitality Educator & Trainer.

Ms. Pervin Bhasin, Certified Leadership Coach.

Ms. Laxmi Todiwan, Founder IWH, Hospitality Educator & Trainer.

Ms. Subhra Banerjee, Founder Encovate.

Mr. Gaurav Mehra, Director Encovate

Students from various hotel management colleges interning at Encovate.

Idea behind EDGE2021

The key purpose of EDGE2021 was to address the above differences and bridge the academic industry gap in big way. EDGE2021, a first of its kind blended event that included pre-event course work for participants followed by LIVE sessions and recordings that could be accessed by participants at their own pace. The pre-event course work included presentations and quizzes on core departments as well as ancillary departments of a hotel addressing the awareness of the practical knowledge. The LIVE sessions addressed the social skills, professional etiquettes and the hotel operations transitions that the industry is going through.

EDGE2021 saw participation from 65+ Hotel management colleges and vocational institutions. It also brought in industry leaders and experts who all came together with one unified vision: Giving back to the industry and helping in the development of the future hospitality professionals. EDGE2021 had representations from multiple hotel companies such as Accor, Hilton, Hyatt, IHCL, IHG, Marriott, The Leela, The Park Hotels etc across various departments of the hotels. To name a few, we had the support of Mr. Sanjay Sethi from Chalet Hotels Ltd, Chef Sharad Dewan, Regional Director, Food Production, The Park Hotels, Chef Gautam Mehrishi from Renaissance Convention Centre,  Lakeside chalet, Marriott executive apartments, Mumbai, Mr. Prashant Kulkarni, Director Food & Beverage Hilton India, Dr. Nitin Nagrale CEO Quality NZ, Founder HPMF, and many other industry leaders, who volunteered from their busy schedules to share their knowledge, wisdom and experiences with the young learners, truly bridging the industry academic gap.

The Programme

EDGE2021 was spread out across 3 evenings that included panel discussions, fireside chats with core and ancillary departments, special sessions with three General Managers of leading hospitality companies and an exclusive CEO session with Mr. Sanjay Sethi. Apart from covering the basic functioning of each department of the hotel, qualities and attributes needed as a professional, EDGE2021 enumerated the current trends and best practices followed by each department. It also brought to light the future skills that every hospitality professional need to develop for times to come.

Outline of sessions

Department Introduction, Overview of the department and sub departments: Functions. This was followed with a panel discussion that shared the following with the audience:

A Real life story: Unexpected situation in the department and how was it dealt.

Key qualities and attributes that would define one to be a future professional.

Career prospects in Hospitality and beyond.

Current and future best practices in the department.

Q&A session where the audience asked questions.

The programme began with a myth buster session by Mr. Sanyam Saigal, GM L&D, HCGEL. It was an eye opener that the students and all the viewers really appreciated.  This was followed by a session on Front Office that was represented by Mr. Alok Kaul , General Manager, Radisson Lonavala and Ms. Ami Rajeshwari, Asst Front Office Manager, Holiday Inn Mumbai.

The Housekeeping Knowledge sharing session was with Ms. Smita Rathod, EHK, The Leela Bhartiya City, Bangalore, Ms. Shilpa Kosambia, Director of Housekeeping, Sofitel Mumbai BKC and Mr. Hari Krishnan, Founder Member, Asian Housekeepers Association.The concluding session of the day was on Hotel Engineering knowledge sharing session with Mr. Neeraj Kaushik, Director of Engineering, Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre, Lakeside Chalet, Marriott Executive Apartment.

Day 2 began with the Food & Beverage knowledge sharing session with Mr. Prashant Kulkarni, Director Food & Beverage, Hilton India and Mr. Gaurav Mehra, Director Encovate. Followed by the Food Production knowledge sharing session with Chef Sharad Dewan, Regional Director – Food Production, The Park Hotels. Chef Gautam Mehrishi , Executive Chef, Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre and Lakeside Chalet, Marriott Executive Apartment and Chef Rounak Kinger, Executive Chef, Kochi Marriott Hotel. This was followed by a session on Procurement by Dr. Nitin Nagrale CEO Quality NZ, Founder HPMF. Thus ending day two.

Day 3 began with a knowledge sharing session on sales and marketing by Ms. Megha Garg, Marcomm Manager, Doubletree Suites by Hilton, Bangalore.

In an era of technology led interventions, communication will play a key role and as hospitality professionals, this is one skill set that cannot be compromised upon.  Communication skills would be vital and requires evolved understanding levels. Deep empathy and respect will be guiding values and principles for the future hospitality professionals. Fair amount of digital knowledge, data analysis and interpretation would add distinctiveness to an individual’s profile. The session with Human Resources by Ms. Namrata Sharma, Director HR, Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre and Lakeside Chalet, Marriott Executive Apartment and Mr. Rishabh Tandon, Area Director HR, IHG South West Asia Region. It highlighted the common mistakes that students make on their CV’s. It also brought the importance of video resumes, the initiative that students need to drive to ensure they optimize and maximize their learning curve today.

A session on The Right Mindset by Mr. Amarjeet Kudle, Coach, Entrepreneur, La Villa Bethany was a perfect way to engage students.

The General Managers session brought to light the skills that the respective brands look for within the prospective employees and brought clarity on how to demonstrate the right attitude. The session consisted of a panel of 3 renowned hotel general managers Ms. Neha Chhabra, Courtyard by Marriott, Bangalore, Mr. Samrat Datta, Taj Exotica Resort and Spa, Maldives and Mr. Sumit Kumar, Hyatt Pune, Kalyani Nagar.

The CEO session with Mr. Sanjay Sethi, MD & CEO Chalet Hotels Ltd. was extremely insightful with multiple learnings and takeaways from Mr. Sethi’s career journey as a hotelier and entrepreneur. He stressed on the need for digital knowledge enhancements along with social and interpersonal skills developments key to career success in future. He also stated that future roles in hospitality would be more driven towards managing relations and creating unique experiential moments.

EDGE2021 has been well applauded by academic institutions and educators stating it as a pioneer event in redesigning the hospitality education and bridging the industry academic gap in a very big way. On a mission to upskill the next 10 million hospitality professionals, Encovate is gearing up for bringing many more such events in future, IWH will be collaborating with them. For the students who missed attending the live event can visit www.encovate.com to access the recordings that have been uploaded as knowledge capsules.

Such events are ways to giving back to the fraternity; hospitality industry did that in abundance and with a sense of responsibility for the young students.

Pictures are taken from Encovate with due credits.


Dr. Laxmi Todiwan
Dr. Laxmi Todiwan
Founder Indian Women in Hospitality. She is a Professor, Corporate Trainer, Motivational Speaker and a Blogger. A multiple award winning hospitality professional with a career spanning over two decades; people engagement, training and development are close to her heart. She writes for hospitality journals, online platforms and columns in the local newspapers. Married to a Master Mariner she loves to write on the maritime industry as well as the lives and relationships of the fraternity. She expresses her thoughts on her blog and website, www.theiwh.com

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