The boss lady – Ms. Matuli Madhusmita Swain

Hospitality industry – Challenges and issues from women’s perspective
June 6, 2019
Ms. Keerti Nambiar
June 25, 2019

The boss lady – Ms. Matuli Madhusmita Swain

We meet many people and there are some we connect instantly, all thanks to the charishma that they exude. One such person happens to be a lady I connected with on the IWH platform. I haven’t met her in person but from the interactions we have had I know she is an amazing young woman, promising hospitality professional and truly the Boss Lady! She has had an illustrious career doing some fantabulous work and winning accolades; read about her inspiring journey here. IWH in conversation with the dynamic Ms. Matuli Madhusmita Swain,  Head Marketing and Communications, Crowne Plaza, Jaipur Tonk Road (IHG).

IWH:  Tell us something about you, your growing up years, life through school, college etc.

Matuli:  I have had a very secure upbringing as a child. With parents as educationists and growing up in Bhubaneswar, Odisha in an academic campus – education was the main focus. As a child, I did not have much scope to explore my creative side, though I did find my passion for public speaking when I enrolled for and won my first debate competition.  I am extremely fortunate to have had the privilege of being good at academics and having the opportunity to pursue a strong academic career all through school and college. Dance and art are my therapies and in my MBA course, I decided to opt for marketing major

I have always loved business studies and am equally passionate about lifestyle, so it should be of no surprise that I graduated with a gold medal in Economics major and Sociology minor and landed in Hospitality! Talk of synergies here!

IWH:  What made you select Hospitality as a career? Was it easy making that decision?

Matuli:  I firmly believe that this industry chose me as her God-child. When my campus recruitments were happening, I got selected to be a part of The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts on day one. I haven’t looked back since then, and it has been a winsome 12 years – of which 8 years have been in Hospitality and detours have led me to Advertising and Social Development sector. What made my decision easy was that I never second guessed myself when choosing this career – it was my first interview, I cleared it and something in my heart told me I’d do just fine. It’s been more than just okay so far – it’s been a good ride.

IWH:  What is your current role?

Matuli: I head Marketing and Communications for Crowne Plaza Jaipur Tonk Road (IHG). This is a lateral move for me, as compared to my previous role. I chose it as with Jaipur, I finally got a chance to get my hands-on marketing & communications experience across a pan India domain, as my earlier hospitality stint has taken me to Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Kovalam and Goa. Jaipur is a growing market, very seasonal in terms of business and immensely beautiful. It is an interesting marketing mix!

IWH:  How has your hospitality journey been so far? Pros, cons etc?

Matuli:  To sum it in one word – ENRICHING. I have had the privilege to work with industry icons and learn so much. The industry is dynamic and ever changing – so you are always on your toes. Hospitality teaches you patience and the ability to absorb stress, like no other.  This industry really consumes you, it indeed is a 24/7 – 365 years a day kind of career – you really cannot ever let it go. The flip side, I have never seen a festival with family and friends as invariably, all festive days, especially year end celebrations happen to be working days, spent at the hotel, cheering with other guests and your team.

IWH:  Who has been your mentor or a role model? In what way has that person helped you?

Matuli:  My mentor, Alexa Poortier, Founder – NOW Transforming Hospitality GmbH taught me how to be a Boss Babe at work – impeccable integrity and crafting memorable marketing campaigns along the way.

She taught me everything I could ever know as a fresher and I am really lucky to have been trained by her. From crafting a marketing plan to executing a full-fledged campaign, it was Alexa who was my rock; on which I laid my foundation training of hospitality marketing communications.

Apart from her, I deeply admire Vishvapreet Singh Cheema, Area General Manager North India, (IHG), as great industry leader to work with. His passion for work and faith in his team really inspire you to do better.

IWH:  What have been the high points of your career? Highlight at least 3.

Matuli:  a) Getting a PR lead from USA to materialize – and getting The Leela Goa, on the cover page of Conde Nast Traveler Magazine USA.

  1. b) Having The Pink Poppadom, modern Indian cuisine restaurant from the erstwhile Ista Bangalore hotel featured in the first ever edition of BBC Good Food India Magazine. We got a 4.5/5 rating after a mystery review and this was a PR lead that we managed to nail over other industry stalwarts.
  2. c) Launching the Hyatt Bangalore MG Road (now known as Hyatt Centric MG Road Bangalore) in 2013. Launching a hotel with a brand change under 6 months was a deeply challenging yet a fantastic pre-opening experience.

IWH:  What challenges have you faced as a woman in the industry? How did you deal with them?

Matuli:  Challenges are plenty, though we learn to navigate them better, with experience and some fairy dust along the way!

  1. a) Being heard – As a women, we have to speak-up double, work treble and focus 4 times as much to be heard and seen. That is something that I look forward to changing even more in the years to come. The best way is take your numbers with you, always. Account for your time and projects and ask for extra help when you need it. Delegation is a possibility and I have learnt to embrace it.
  2. b) Career mapping and growth – This one needs honest introspection and careful scrutiny. Opportunities can be passed upon and sometimes, despite working your best, you can go completely unappreciated. Keep talking to your mentors – discuss and plan your career ahead.
  3. c) Network & Support – Networking with business acumen is not a natural forte for women. This is one area where I would like to work on myself more actively. I always advise juniors to have a core support team . It is important.

IWH:  If there was anything that you could change about your life or career what would that be?

Matuli:  I had planned or rather imagined that I would be heading/helming a global position and leading a team by now. That hasn’t happened – I am confident that it will. So yes, a more robust planned growth would have been something that I wish I had the opportunity to redo. I did let go of some good opportunities – which I wish I hadn’t. Having said that, I am looking forward to a great 2019, where I get to explore more bold, beautiful and smashing career moves.

IWH:  What do you think of IWH?

Matuli:  It is a wonderful initiative – long overdue and am so glad that Laxmi Todiwan decided to do it. Ideas are as good as their execution and the IWH is a great platform for Women in Hospitality to connect and share their stories, their struggles, their strength and their success. We all need this dose of inspiration to be the sunshine on days when you need some push to get through it all. I wish this wonderful platform much success and greater participation from everyone.  Let’s make the best and most of this idea!

IWH:  Your advice to the young professionals and students.

Matuli:  Experience is the best resume you will ever have. Be a dreamer for sure and surely be a doer.

IWH:  Anything else you wish to share with our readers?

Matuli:  A career isn’t an option for women anymore. A career is a necessity and I always wish every woman a successful career, irrespective she is self-employed or working for an organization. To all the women in hospitality, we need more women GMs, EXCOMS, HoDs, Directors and Global Leads. Let’s make that happen more often! Good luck and great spirits!

It was great connecting with Matuli and she was gracious enough to answer the many questions we had for her. IWH wishes to see more women like her in the industry and make it even more engaging and empowering; truly a career option for the millennials.

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,

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