Describe your role in one sentence
Our business is about happiness, and my job is to ensure our customers, employees and owners are inspired and fulfilled.
What are you most proud of after a year with Cycas?
There are probably two key highlights since coming on board in May last year. Top of the list is maintaining our market leading (top 10%) guest love scores across our hotels as business ramped up rapidly post-Covid – a great achievement in itself, and one our team accomplished despite extreme shortage in staff availability. I’m also hugely proud of building the team, systems and processes that have allowed us to double our hotel portfolio in just one year, and expand our European footprint from five to 12 countries.
What industry trends excite you most?
If the pandemic taught us one thing, it’s how human connections are more important than ever. I’ve therefore spent a lot of time researching how we can make the most of automation technology to free our Cycadettes up to spend more time with guests and ensure they have the best possible stay.
Service technology has come a long way and guest-focused tools - from kiosks and mobile check-in to mobile order and payment systems, and robotic vacuum cleaners to workflow management systems - are something hotel brands are increasingly happy to incorporate elements of, and something we’ve been investing in successfully across our portfolio.
How do you overcome the challenges of operating a wide spectrum of hotel styles across multiple countries?
At Cycas we pride ourselves in the diversity of our colleagues, who are united by our core values of growth, integrity, fun and teamwork and bring together an incredible range of hospitality expertise and success stories.
Earlier this month we took over 11 hotels in eight countries and nine key cities on the same day. Thanks to the breadth of international experience and cultural diversity in our team, I was able to send senior operational leaders to each of these hotels for a week as mentors to handhold them through the onboarding. Best of all, each of these operational leaders had a cultural and language connection to the hotels they visited, and the Cycas team spirit means these hotels have ‘buddies’ across the business that they can always reach out to for support or advice.
After so much expansion, what is the next milestone for Cycas?
Our core purpose is to create the best place to work and grow in hospitality. And, having consistently ranked as one of the top hospitality employers in the UK, the next big milestone for us is to replicate the scale and success and become the best place to work in hospitality across Europe.
We know that retaining, developing and investing in top talent has always played a key role in Cycas’s success story, and our ability to encourage our Cycadettes to grow their careers via exposure to multiple properties and hotel styles has been central to this.
To help us get there, we’ve ramped up our bespoke year-long Cyfari leadership development programme, which we designed to give the next generation of Cycas leaders a thorough overview of hotel operations across multiple countries, helping them develop core skills across all areas, from commerce and finance to HR and H&S.
THE FUN FIVE
What makes you smile?
I typically smile a lot! However, no one makes me smile more than my nine year old daughter – kids don’t have the same filter as adults or tend to hide how they feel, so she has taught me to communicate directly and clearly. And it’s hard not to smile when she points out the contradictions between the way we want her to live her life – such as spending less time on her phone or iPad – and the reality of how we live ours.
What inspires you?
Whether at work or in my personal life I strive to be a “Servant Leader” and believe it’s very important to learn from people at all levels and have the humility to recognise everyone has unique strengths and perspectives. Every problem can be solved by combining diverse points of view and I love facilitating this process.
Where would we find you at the weekend?
The tennis court is my happy place, so my Saturday and Sunday mornings are normally spent at my local tennis club where I play with a great group of friends. I find it a brilliant way to de-stress so it gets my weekend off to a great start, and is the perfect way to shake off the working week.
If the weather’s on our side, I’ll try to get out for a cycle ride and picnic with my family and friends, before cooking up a feast for them in the evening. I love inventing new dishes, which are based on whatever inspires me at the supermarket!
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
An inventor! When I was nine my sister moved from India to the US, and I couldn’t fathom how it could take a full day to travel to see her, but felt the world would be a better and richer place if we could get around the world faster.
Unfortunately planes today don’t fly faster than they did in the 1960s, and it can often take longer to get to your destination due to airport congestion. So, whilst I may not be an inventor, I remain fascinated by the power of technology, particularly alternative greener travel options such as hyperloop networks and what they could mean for the future of intra-European connectivity.
What would the industry be most surprised to discover about you?
Acting was a real passion when I was growing up. Not only did I perform in plays through school and college, but in my late teens I also toured with a professional Shakespeare company, which I really enjoyed. On my 20th birthday I had to choose between two loves; acting and a chance to travel across East Africa. I chose travel and have fallen under the hospitality spell ever since.