Govnd Joshi, currently working as a hotel manager in Thailand, is running a property under the management of Oakwood Hotels - Ascott Group. The hotel is owned by the Boutique Corporation, a company that focuses on designing, developing, managing and selling innovative real estate solutions in the hospitality, retail, and commercial sectors, also operate its own brand Jono, and Jono X hotels. Govnd comes from India and has been working for more than 15 years in some of the top tourist destinations and business hubs across the Middle East, Africa, South East Asia, Maldives and India with some of the leading hotel brands like Intercontinental Hotels, Kempinski and Minor Hotels.
An army brat who was raised and did his schooling in different parts of India was very much inspired by the brave stories of the armed forces and wanted to be an army officer, however, still misses very much to have that olive green uniform. Travelling was one of the motivations that drifted him to study hotel management. He has been to many countries to work in and has enjoyed his stint wherever he got posted he loves to connect with people and learn their culture. Currently, he is posted in Thailand and very much impressed with the culture and the people where hospitality is deep-rooted in hearts. A believer in life-long learning continues his learning by reading books, travelling and enrolling in industry courses as Cornell University is his one of favourites.
Strongly supporting the local talents wherever he goes, Govnd hopes this interview will inspire and guide more future leaders of the industry.
What was your first job in the industry?
GJ: I started my career in the hotel industry as a waiter at Kempinski Hotel, Mall of the Emirates Dubai in 2007, I still carry very much respect for this hotel as it acted as a practical school for me where I got opportunities to learn from some of the best and powerful industry leaders who are still in touch and act as mentors to me, after serving four years plus with this property, I was transferred to be part of the pre-opening of a Kempinski Resort in one of the most beautiful countries in the planet, Seychelles, where I served as a Restaurant Manager.
What do you love the most about hospitality?
GJ: Hospitality creates opportunities for you to work across the globe with people form different cultural backgrounds. You physically get transferred to countries where you work with local individuals and you become part of them. You learn from each other and that makes you a better leader. One of the quotes that I truly like about Ibn Battuta is that the great leaders of the world are great travellers. Once you are in the hospitality industry, you automatically become a traveller as this is one of the requirements that come in this industry.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome on your way to success?
GJ: I am an Indian who did his education and training in India only, right after my college and training, I got a job in Dubai. When I was with Kemplinsk Hotel in Food and Beverage department, I was part of a restaurant by the name of Sezzam that was having 935 sitting capacity where we had 98 team members in service and a similar number of kitchen personnel. I still remember we had flags of fifty-one countries in our team member's cafeteria, which means we had employees from 51 countries serving in the hotel. If you don't know the culture of others, it becomes very hard for you to connect with individuals, and I had to go through the same challenges when I joined there. At that time I was only twenty-two years old and was not only new to introducing myself to other cultures but, also to the industry. I was literally quiet for my initial couple of months, however, it didn't take me long to adapt not only to the working culture but much more to learn the culture of others how they behave and what type of language one can use to connect with people from other nationalities. Having overcome this challenge by adapting to the culture of others, now it's very easy for me wherever I get transferred to work with the locals.
What makes one a true hotelier?
GJ: One needs to understand that working in hotels is just not a job that pays you. Yes, it does, however, it is completely a lifestyle that you have to adapt. I have been hearing a lot since I joined hotels that it's very hard to work in this industry. If you are passionate about anything, then nothing is hard. You will never hear from people who have climbed mountains like Everest or have stepped on the north or south pole that it is very hard, why because they do it out of their extreme passion. It's an industry where you are dealing with people, your colleagues, and your guests who are visiting you, and they all are with you for filling some of their emotional needs. Once you get succeed in filling the needs of the people for what they are emotionally driven, you become a real hotelier. Yes, there are some technical aspects that we call hard skills which basically every industry requires to operate, however, in hospitality once you master in soft-skills, you become a true player in the industry.
What would be your advice to beginners in the industry?
GJ: The industry and its culture have changed very much since I personally joined hotels. Now the generation-z is entering who are raised and educated completely in a different environment. However, once you are in the hospitality industry, I will suggest the first thing you keep in your mind that is PEOPLE. You are working with people and for people who are driven by their own emotions, not some gadgets in their hands. Yes, the technology is there to support which is changing very fast, but the emotional needs of people remain very much the same where you need to give them more time. This industry will teach you automatically how to work hard, but I strongly believe and recommend, only that will not take you far, one needs to work smartly and be a life learner. The real learning starts once you leave your college room where a faculty doesn't come to you to teach but you seek knowledge of what you really want to be. Nowadays we say that we are learning a lot as we have social media and we get everything in it, that is somehow true, but you need to learn what you want to seek in your life, not what is just coming in front of you in your hands by social media or other channels. And also, keep in your mind from the beginning that your career will be just a part of your life, but not your complete life. Your families, your other hobbies, friends, fun, and relationship are all part of life too. Progress in every segment of your life to lead better in the future.