Since launching our mentorship programme, back in April 2020, The Growth Works has been keen to learn more about the mentors and mentees who make up our network. This profile series offers a glimpse into the minds of industry leaders who are generously sharing their time and expertise with our mentees, as well as shining a spotlight on the upcoming talent within our industry.
Name: Sabah Mehta
Why did you get into hospitality?
My main objective was (and still is) to do something where I can be a part of creating amazing experiences for people. As a 12 year-old, I had this dream of starting my own bakery right here in my hometown, Mumbai, India. I used to go into the kitchen with my parents all the time growing up. To my father, experience has always been everything. Every meal he makes at home is something new he has either taught himself or he has learned during his life.
There is this one restaurant near where I live where, to date, the same manager has watched me and my younger brother grow up! We have been going there for so many years and have a life-long bond with the staff there, all because of their love for creating exceptional experiences. I suppose that’s really where it all started. Going to university at Les Roches, however, I realised that there are many different avenues available to create amazing experiences, potentially on a larger scale. I decided to keep cooking as a hobby and discover where my area of expertise might be.
What are your career highlights?
My career began when I won a two-week scholarship to go for a Summer Program at Les Roches, the university where I study now, about 3 years ago. It got me where I am today and has opened up many doors.
My first ever internship (before university) was only a month long with a cross training between pastry and finance with the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai. I look at it as a bit of foreshadowing to what my current goals are.
During my studies so far, I have had one 6-month long internship with Ritz-Carlton in Portugal, in the food and beverage department. I worked with a great team that taught me how important collaboration and trust are to be able to not only optimise guest experience, but also enjoy yourself while working towards it. It was an eye opening experience that led me to my next goal: a career in revenue management.
Since I’m still in university and just starting out in my career, I’d say I have a way to go before I reach the highlight of my career! I have, however, enjoyed myself thoroughly and I am looking forward to what’s next in store for me.
What is the project you are most excited about right now?
Currently I am on summer study break from my 4th semester with final exams approaching in September. However, after that most of us students will go on our 2nd 6-month internship, which is what I’m looking forward to right now. I’m in the search process at the moment, and I’m very excited and optimistic about finding good opportunities in Europe. The Growth Works has been an important channel for me to learn more about the industry from highly experienced professionals. My internship search is very important to me, because it will help determine the next step in my career.
Additionally to that, a friend of mine (also part of the mentorship program), Rhett Cai, has started his own Brand and Designing company called Collettivo. I am a part of his designing team and we’re currently working on building a solid concept, creating a strong profile and marketing ourselves. We’re very excited to see this venture grow into something we can feel proud of having created ourselves.
What are you most looking forward to after the pandemic?
Right now, I’m at home with my family, and if the situation eases up soon, I will be able to return to campus to complete my semester face-to-face instead of remotely, reconnect with classmates and friends, meet more recruiters, and get a chance to travel again. That’s truly what I miss most. I am really grateful to be able to spend this extra time with my family that I truly never thought I would get. I remember one of our professors telling us that there’s nothing like a home cooked meal, which I can actually attest to after being away from home this long. However, I am really hoping for things to start getting better in the hospitality industry (which has been hit particularly hard), so that we all can find good opportunities and contribute in the ways we all expected to before the pandemic. It is definitely frightening for someone as early on in her career as myself, but if this is supposed to be the nadir for the hospitality industry, we can only go up from here.
Why did you join The Growth Works mentorship programme?
For someone at the very beginning of her career, a platform like The Growth Works is like a lottery ticket – it’s a common platform where I can speak with experienced professionals from the industry, get to know them one-on-one, and hear their advice directly. Building strong relationships is very important, especially in this industry, and this has been the perfect opportunity to meet many talented and driven people! After I discovered the mentorship program through a LinkedIn Live that Les Roches hosted, I felt like I found another helpful channel to Alumni of Les Roches as well as other people in the field that I am interested in.
What are you looking for in a mentor?
Someone who is engaging, open, and patient. As an undergraduate student, I was quite intimidated to join this program, to be surrounded by people with years of experience, even in terms of the mentees. But, so far, my mentors have made me feel right at home. I assume being a mentor in a program like this requires you to interact with people with different levels of experience (including students like me), different cultures and various backgrounds as well, which in turn calls for patience and understanding. All in all, I’m looking for someone who doesn’t get bugged by all the questions I always have for them, because I generally have a lot! And someone who I can turn to for advice. I am happy to say that I could not have asked for better mentors to learn from.
Tell us one thing you’ve learned since you joined the programme / from your mentor
You never stop discovering yourself. No matter how far you reach in your career, there will always be new things to learn and people to learn from. Becoming a leader or an accomplished professional doesn’t mean that you stop learning. I always imagined that there’s one fixed path – kindergarten, school, college, job and so on. But, really, nothing is set in stone, and there is no pre-written path to follow. The world around us is always changing and new opportunities are always arising. A lot of the time, you have to create your own luck by taking initiative, being proactive, and putting yourself in the right place at the right time. For example, had Mr. Scott Dahl (Master’s program Director at Les Roches, Switzerland) not decided to host that webinar with James, I would never have been a part of the Growth Works Mentorship Program! Which part of it is lucky, we cannot be sure. The fact is, here we are.
Would you recommend The Growth Works mentorship programme? Why?
I would and I actually already have! I mentioned one of my classmates and good friend at Les Roches, Rhett Cai. He has already joined the program at my recommendation. It’s a great learning opportunity, a great way to meet new people and make connections that we probably would not have been exposed to otherwise, if it weren’t for this pandemic.