10 Minutes With A Leader: Mohammed Javed Khan - Hotel Manager, Sandals Resorts

10 Minutes With A Leader: Mohammed Javed Khan - Hotel Manager, Sandals Resorts

Originally from India, Mohammed Javed Khan is now leading the 700-people hotel team of one of the finest five-star all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean. 

A gold medalist in hotel management studies, he is a competitive hospitality leader who accepts nothing less than exceeding all measurables. He is sharing his story in this exclusive interview to inspire beginners in the industry to follow their dreams.

Mohammed Javed Khan - Sandals resorts

What was your first job in the industry?

I had no idea of hotels till I was in my 12th standard. I did not even know that there are colleges which teach you how to manage hotels. Nobody in my lineage has ever work in hotels. I have only seen five-star hotels in movies and in metro cities of India in Lucknow and Delhi from outside and heard stories like "a tea costed INR 500 in Taj Mumbai" from my uncle coming back from abroad while growing up, and it gave me goose bumps of thinking about it.

I am a hotelier by chance. I was fascinated with Indian Air Force and was preparing for it in Lucknow. There while visiting a sick friend, I came across the brochure of a hotel management course by Government of India and I found it quite interesting and applied for it. Unfortunately, could not make it to air force due to my eye sight but got selected for hotel management for IHM Lucknow. This is where my journey started; IHM Lucknow is one of the finest hotel management colleges in country and faculties are simply out of the world. Everyone teaches you to be successful and they really take pain to teach students who thought hotel management was no-brainer. I feel I was very blessed to get into IHM Lucknow. Here I was highly motivated and my life was touched by my one faculty whom I am eternal grateful is Mr. T.K. Bansal who always believed in students who were not from so posh backgrounds and always kept an eye to make sure we do not lose focus. Now, when I look back, I can strongly confirm that I can’t be anything than a hotelier.

I started my career with Leela group of hotels, as I was picked by The Leela Group from campus recruitment in 2004 for Hotel Operations Trainee in food and beverage service. I then worked in Leela Mumbai and Goa for next five years in Food & Beverage as a supervisor, restaurant manager, and banquets manager and thoroughly loved it. I am very lucky to have got a chance to open eyes under very supportive and watchful leadership of our F&B training manager Mr. Oliver Fernandes and our EAM Food & Beverage Mr. Daniels. These two had huge impact in making me a better person and a professional, and 90% of my professional personality was shaped by these two individuals.

What do you love the most about hospitality?

The buzz of hotels makes me very excited. Every day is different, and there is always excitement of some sort happening. You never get bored or feel monotonous.  But the biggest satisfaction of a hotelier is “touching lives”. Every day we make special moments which for us may be a daily routine, but for guests these are lifelong memories like honeymoons, marriage anniversaries, marriage proposals, or weddings. We get to be the curators of these emotional moments and be part of the celebration is beyond explanations as part of our job.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome on your way to success?

Intelligence over flamboyance. In process, I feel many hotel owners or CEOs or top executives hire for important roles to head their business or department based on flamboyance and personal appearances. But we must remember it’s a business, and to run a business you need a high level of emotional and analytical intelligence, too. Whenever a role was passed on to others, or someone was selected in an interview because of their nationality or language speaking skills instead of merit was painful and frustrating. Hence, I value my achievements a lot more as not only I had to work hard but also ensure that I am evolved with changing time, learning new skills, new languages, and stay updated.

What makes one a true hotelier?

Hotel industry is a very hardworking and round the clock so not meant for everybody, and that’s the reason there are so many who quit in first year of their placement in hotels after college and they go back to further studies to diversify into other industries. From my personal experience and point of view, the one thing which you must have to succeed is to be genuinely honest to your trade. Do it with all you have and have patience. Also I believe one should be people’s person and you must lift others in process and touch lives of your guests and of your teams. 

What would be your advice to beginners in the industry?

Integrity, confidence, and energy. Hotel trade is simple and can be taught and people can be trained easily. But one must be confident and energetic, and should be pleasant. "Naysayers" and cynics find it difficult and bring down energy of entire team and that’s why all international brands have started psychometric test to check before offering the job to check if one is perfect or almost perfect blend with vision of company psychologically as well.

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