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: Anuja Rananaware
Why did you get into hospitality?
As a young Indian girl, I was fascinated by the diversity around me and wondered about everything in the world I am yet to see. I remember a surprise birthday party I planned for my mom as an 11 year-old and her reaction was priceless. That was the first time I created an experience for someone. I’ve always been a people person and hospitality is all about people and experiences, two things I’m absolutely fond of. I am repeatedly seeking adventures, and none of the people I knew back then had ventured into hospitality. So, I guess in my case, this is a happy accident.
Also, continually welcoming new guests to the hotel means each day is filled with different challenges and requests which keeps your working day interesting. No matter your position, no two days are identical within this exciting, dynamic industry. This is a career where you can start at the bottom and work your way up to the top, and one in which you can explore a variety of lateral roles.
From cruise ships to hotels, restaurants and resorts in other lands, there are plenty of opportunities to feed my travel bug, explore different cultures, and meet new people when I work in this industry. Most importantly the element of job satisfaction is second to none! I think hospitality is a way of life. When you really enjoy what you’re doing, your excitement is contagious and you’ll strive to do your best.
What are your career highlights?
Two years ago, when I graduated, I began my career as a New Gen Leader – Accor Asia Pacific. It is an extensive 18 months program wherein I was thoroughly trained in my core department which is Front Office, with The Sofitel Mumbai. Soon after, I was appointed as the Assistant Manager Front Office for the ravishing hotel.
Throughout my initial journey so far, The Sofitel Mumbai being a property driven by business clientele, I think one of the highlights for me was Driving Weekend Business (Room sales) for the hotel. For this, we introduced an exciting weekend staycation package to engage the local community and saw a significant rise by 12% – 15% in respective business in the following months. This also reminds me of my short time in Novotel Pune at which the highlight was being able to achieve the highest till date OTA review and Guest Feedback along with the Hotel Reputation score.
This pandemic has made things complicated for the hospitality industry, however I think one of the highlights of my career definitely is all of us getting through this together.
What is the project you are most excited about right now?
There are quite a few things I’ve engaged myself in right now, The Growth Works mentorship programme being high up on the list! Apart from that, I’m excited about my upcoming webinars as a panellist pertaining to Millennials and the World after Covid-19 so as to guide Gen Z in these trying times. I’m currently also very eager about my recent volunteering for Mental Health Support during Covid-19.
What are you most looking forward to after the pandemic?
I am really missing my morning runs. There is a beautiful hill amidst nature where I stay in Pune, which has now been sealed as the number of Covid-19 cases rise. It also happens to be one of my favourite places in the city. I think that will be the first thing I do post the pandemic. I have been trying to stay positive and creative during this time. I’m reading, painting and meditating a lot more than I used to and I plan to be more consistent at it after the pandemic as well. I genuinely feel it is the small things in life making us happy that matter hugely during these times. And lastly, I am the most excited for a trip with my girl gang to the Andaman Islands after all this ends.
Although, I’m going to miss this time I’m spending with my family now, which I felt guilty about not doing as I relocated for work.
Why did you join The Growth Works mentorship programme?
I discovered the mentorship programme through a LinkedIn Live that Les Roches hosted, and was quickly intrigued with the concept and the bright website and decided to sign up as a mentee. It has served as a platform to connect with people globally in order to share your opinions and ideas, at the same time receiving mentoring from one of the best in the game. It has been exceedingly valuable with amazing interactive weekly sessions on diverse topics related to hospitality. All the discussions are engaging and equally fun as well! The Growth Works community is a great source of knowledge and an opportunity to associate with competent hoteliers around the world.
What are you looking for in a mentor?
I read somewhere that a mentor helps you step outside your comfort zone, so this person should be a bit outside your comfort zone as well. You need diversity to make sure you’re getting a true different perspective on things, and I couldn’t agree more. I think to be a mentee is in a sense an honour. You’re responsible for using what you learn for growth, and someday passing it along.
As my mentor, I would generally look for someone who is enthusiastic, a good fit, respectful of others and a respected expert in their field, Someone who also has the willingness to connect and network along with active listening skills and will provide an honest assessment of my strengths, challenges, and development needs. I would look for someone who helps me see a different outlook on different issues, problems or circumstances. A great mentor would have clarity because of experience, and since they are not immersed first hand they can provide invaluable help in difficult situations.
Tell us one thing you’ve learned since you joined the programme / from your mentor
That change is the only constant. Through this programme I connected with experienced and truly talented people from the industry, and there is no denying that we are all going through immense change due to the current pandemic. The key learning for me is to adapt to and embrace change and to be a part of the process.
James and his team have done an exceptional job at appointing mentors for like-minded individuals. I have been lucky to be mentored by Micro lada, given his plethora of knowledge and over 30 years of experience in core hospitality. We have had a number of mentoring sessions discussing a wide range of topics like Impact of Covid-19 on the dining scenario, long-term and short-term remedies for the pandemic along with skills required to sustain in the ever-changing world.
Would you recommend The Growth Works mentorship programme? Why?
Definitely! There is always scope to learn something new and growth never stops. And as the name suggests, The Growth Works is a great platform for networking and making new connections, which probably would not be possible so quickly otherwise.