I met Ms. Sujata Guin in 2008 at The Park Kolkata, the flagship property of the Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels Ltd. I was there for my induction / training when I joined Apeejay Institute of Hospitality. The HR Director then, she came across as a warm and vivacious lady. She always had a winning smile on her face. She is certainly a people’s person, forever ready to listen, read between the lines and offer great counseling as well as mentorship. Handling the people function in any organization is not easy; it is as complex as the human nature itself. She has been managing it with élan. Quite tech savvy herself, she has brought about many successful innovations that won her accolades not only within the organization but in the fraternity of HR professionals across industries and sectors. She is immensely respected and loved by her teams; they say that she is one of the most approachable HR leaders they have worked with. She makes it easy no matter what the situation; an art she has mastered over the years that puts her in the league of the very best HR professionals.
Ms. Sujata Guin, VP Human Resources, heads the People Function for Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels Ltd (The Park), Flurys Swiss Confectionery Pvt. Ltd. and Apeejay Institute of Hospitality. Team strength of approximately 3500 women and men make up this ‘Anything but Ordinary’ organization. With a firm commitment to the vision of Leadership through Differentiation; Her responsibilities include Team-Strength Planning, Talent Acquisition & Process Management, Talent Retention, Gender Diversity, Performance Management, Reward & Recognition, Employee Engagement, Employer Branding, Compensation & Benefits management, Training & Development, Development / Implementation of Organization Policies, Budgets, Cost planning and efficiency, HRIS Management; Analytics & Metrics, Overseeing human resources for the group, advising the Chairperson and Managing Director on HR policy and matters.
The early life:
She comes from a progressive Bengali family and is the only child of her parents. From an early age, she was encouraged to dream and to follow her dreams. She says that her father and mother have been the strong pillars of her life – teaching her, inspiring her and supporting her every single day.
Her early childhood years were in the hills of Kurseong in Darjeeling, India; where she studied at the beautiful St. Helens School – which they would call their “Mountain Home”. She says that her foundation was built on the grounds of that sacred convent where she studied till 6th grade. When political disturbances started in the hills, she moved to Loreto House in Kolkata – a revered institution which again helped shape her growing years. However, it was her 4 years of college in Mount Holyoke that she thinks, gave her the direction and definition. One of the most respected Seven Sister Colleges in the US, MHC instilled in her the thoughts and ideas of women empowerment, gender diversity, leadership, and courage!
She earned herBachelor’s degree – majoring in Biological Sciences and a minor in Psychology. Thereafter, she completed Post Graduation in Business Management from The National University of Singapore, Advanced Certification Program in Human Resources Management from University of California, Los Angeles and Professional Development Programs in Human Resources Management at the Cornell University Ithaca, USA.
Her professional experience of 20 plus years, include stints at First Empire State Corporation (M&T Bank) in upstate New York, her family-run business in Kolkata and thereafter the Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels (The Park Hotels, Flurys & AIH). Her other interests include travel, art, interior design & décor. She has been a panelist on many forums of repute and has over the years spoken at various seminars / forums such as HAI, SHRM Forum East, Silicon India HR Meet Kolkata and Women’s Leadership Summit.
The Get-Set-Go week
Her brainchild the ‘Get-Set-Go week’ is a celebration of the teams across units at The Park and Zone by The Park Hotels; it is a platform to express appreciation for the service, support, commitment and contributions of the team members. During this week, on a daily basis, each location celebrates, appreciates and recognizes teams through various activities and events. It is a week to rejoice, spread cheer, laughter and have fun. Everyone waits eagerly for the GSG Week.
Awards and Accolades:
She is a member of:
A brief conversation with her:
What have been the high points of your career?
– I majored in Biological Sciences in college. During my sophomore & junior years, when I got selected to intern with a brilliant Professor at Harvard Medical School / Beth Israel Hospital, it was an incredible moment in my educational & future career ( I was aiming to do research in the area of medical science) ! I assisted her in her lab with research & related activities in the area of breast cancer.
– The second was when I was cherry-picked from campus at Mount Holyoke College to join one of the most renowned regional banks in upstate New York, M&T Bank (First Empire State Corp) in their management development program. It remains one of the most amazing experiences of my life and career! The switch from biology to banking!
– And saving the best for last: my experience and moments at The Park Hotels. This Anything but Ordinary organization and my role here in the People Space remains one of the most cherished high points of my career.
What challenges have you faced as a woman in the industry?
Most of my work life has been in the hospitality industry & with The Park. I have been very fortunate and blessed to have amazing leaders to look up to. Ms. Priya Paul, Chairperson and Mr. Vijay Dewan, Managing Director at Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels – have been a constant source of support & inspiration. Their trust and confidence enables me to better myself each day. This organization is known for encouraging Diversity & for providing its team members with autonomy and space. Growth is on the basis of Merit – results, contribution and commitment – regardless of gender. So, to answer your question, my gender has never been a source of any challenge, yet.
Your advice to the young professionals and students:
The Hospitality space is exciting – challenging – inspiring; all at once! It is important to remember that the right Attitude is key in this industry! We are here to take care of People – our guests and our teams.
Before she signs off with her favorite Walt Disney quote, She says, “Yes it’s important to acknowledge all the people who made a difference! So I must thank my best friend and partner-in-crime, who I endearingly call BB, he has been a constant source of support – a stabilizing factor in my crazy-busy life! A warm wonderful witty person – we learn from each other & journey together!”
First – Think.Second – Believe.Third – Dream.And finally – Dare !