Monday, 7 May 2018

Hospitality Careers - some insights!

I visited one of the top schools in Navi Mumbai for a career guidance session for their 12th standard students. After talking to them it came as a shock to me to see people know so little about the industry. There’s hardly any awareness. I shared with their coordinator the link to our website, the teachers were surprised to see the potential the industry has. They thought that it wasn’t meant for the Science stream, as they were ‘good students’ focused on making a career in the conventional streams like medicine or engineering. I shared my own story and that of the ladies featured on our website. The coordinator asked me if I could address the Science students too, it was a last minute arrangement as the teachers felt that they would benefit too. I went to their class and did a brief intro of the hospitality and tourism industry and the careers that they offered. The commerce students were present for the career guidance session that was planned for them. The coordinator then asked if she could get the students for an industrial visit to our institute. Which we did plan and had it executed. The feedback was very encouraging; we got some interesting questions from the students. I guess I did one good turn for that day, a small step but a beginning for something substantial. The idea with which the website was created I did seen the impact of that. I need everyone connected with the industry to join hands in this mission.
I also saw the IWH website and blogs/stories being appreciated and shared by bloggers. Some messaged me saying that they didn’t know much about the industry and women in particular, IWH did a good job by not only creating awareness but also sharing success stories.
Heartening isn’t it? How many of you have shared the website or stories from here?

Let’s all reach out and create awareness, also help people make great careers in the industry.

We are turning three months!
We’ll turn 3 months on 7th May 2018. What should we do to celebrate this mark is a question on my mind? I was thinking that we should reach out to more ladies from Hospitality, Tourism and wellness sectors. Requested the 1670 + incredible ladies to introduce the group to their colleagues and friends and they could be a part of IWH as well (the closed support group on facebook). We should get more engaging stories and more activity on the group. We must have fun while we scale newer heights and expect everyone to take charge. The website is there for all to see, the reach is already there. Our idea is to create awareness and mentor people who are interested in creating success stories of their own as we have ladies onboard who have been there and done that!
We did receive some really good testimonials; they validate the fact that we are on the right track and they become our oxygen fuelling more efforts and more power!
The rule of 3, or power of 3, suggests that things that come in threes are funnier, more satisfying, more effective, and/or more memorable, than other numbers of things.
  1. Establishment of an idea
  2. Reinforcement of the idea
  3. Something that is incredible, unexpected, or powerful.
How the brain sees threes
Our brain finds it relatively easy to grasp 3s – elements, colours, sizes and fonts. Push that marginally up to four or more, the brain gets confused about where to look and what to do. Why does this happen? To understand that lets go back the basics. As a child, everything you did and learned seemed to be centered around three such as A,B,C; 1,2,3; Three blind mice, Three musketeers, Three Stooges , Huey, Louie and Dewey. Mother duck said, “Quack! Quack! Quack!” or the famed, “Eya Eya O!”
Always remember that you’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. That’s the power of three too!

Monday, 30 April 2018

Empowering the third gender- a small step by Pink shoes!

I received a message from a batch mate  and  I connected with it instantly. So this week the ‘Pink Shoes’ is being featured on the IWH blog with the hope that it reaches out to more people and somewhere we all can contribute towards a change. Do have a look at what Manish Jain who has been a hotelier with an illustrious career spanning over 20 years and who is engaged in doing things quite ‘Out of the box’ has to say.  Some of you may connect with his vision.

The message
“Greetings, in an attempt to provide dignified employment to the third gender we have initiated our packaged drinking water facility which is managed by the hijra community. Kineer - blessed to quench your thirst, is an attempt to bring them into the main stream so that they may be empowered with jobs. We look forward to your support in buying and placing our water in your facilities.
Regards Manish (”

I liked the fact that Manish is trying to do 'his bit' in generating gainful employment for the third gender and I also see it as a cause that each one of us can support in some way or the other.

Pink Shoes
Out of sight is out of mind' I guess that is what the society chooses to do with the plight of the third gender. Pushed to either beg or indulge into the flesh trade to survive for something which is neither a flaw nor a fault. Would we as the so called 'civilized society' offer to help and hand hold them into a life that any human being deserves or would we keep shrugging away our responsibility and turn a blind eye as we have been doing for so long. Most of us would want to help but then there is the Big Question - What can we do and Where can we accommodate them?
During his tenure at the healthcare industry Manish faced a unique challenge - Providing male attendants for male patients and female attendants for female patients. This would drastically increase his manpower cost for GDAs. This led to a thought - ' Could two issues self correct if merged' What if we hire the third gender which could not only resolve this issue but also assist in the paradigm shift for them being treated as care givers henceforth. A person with the strength of a man and a heart of a woman, who could lift a stretcher if required and also mother a patient if needed.

The Pink Shoes believe that our community has gaps where the Hijras can fit perfectly. For example at India it is considered unsafe for a girl/ lady to travel by a cab/taxi alone. Our question is why can’t the cabs of leading cab operators be operated by the members of the third gender. This would not only eradicate the concern of safety for women travelers but would also provide a dignified employment opportunity for the Hijra. Same applies to washroom attendants - Male for Male and Female for Female - wouldn't the neutral gender be the perfect fit?
Pink Shoes say the'd  like to summarize with just two questions to you - 'If not NOW then WHEN?' and 'If not US then WHO?'

Empowering employment opportunities for the third gender
Transgender - how did this community go from revered to living on the fringes of society? That is the plight of India’s estimated 5 million “hijras.”The term applies to a diverse group who identify as neither male nor female. They can range from natural intersex to male cross dresser.
Respected by the Mughals, but considered criminals by British colonisers, today many live as sex workers and beggars. We at Pink Shoes are looking at empowering the third gender with employment opportunities.  In this regard we have already initiated placements with healthcare industry for them.  We understand that the industry is a bit conservative at present to have them deployed at their sites so we have initiated our Sayजल vertical, which is our packaged drinking water brand. Our bottling plants are manned only by the neutral gender thus ensuring employment for this forgotten segment of our society.
"Kineer packaged drinking water factories would be manned only by the members of the third gender ensuring they get an opportunity to make a dignified living. If you feel your organizations can procure these from The Pink Shoe, you would be assisting in this paradigm shift in a big way" says Manish.

Can we be a part of this paradigm shift? IWH wishes Kineer success!

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Tuesday, 24 April 2018

The lady who gave the theory of cookery!

Recently, I received the same message many times from the whatsapp groups of my hospitality and Hotel administration contacts. The message was about Mrs. Krishna Arora, about her life, her teachings and her cookery bible. It showed the respect the lady earned through her inspirational life and body of work. People who were fortunate to have their lives touched by this inspirational lady learned many valuable lessons from her. She always believed that one is never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream, and she emulated that. She had celebrated her 90th birthday earlier this year in true ‘Krishna Aunty’ style- singing, dancing while meeting her family and friends. She was extremely lively and a star at every gathering.

She was a great teacher, a community stalwart, a culinary expert and food enthusiast; Mrs. Arora was popular with her students, colleagues and associates alike. Her contributions to Monash’s Indian community were recognised with the Order of Australia Medal. She had expressed that one of her greatest achievements was being written onto the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre Shilling Wall for her contribution to Indian women’s welfare. She authored several cookbooks and maintained a regular food column in Indian Voice, a local community publication in Australia, where she lived post her retirement.
They say legends live forever in hearts; Mrs. Arora was such alegend. Many hotel management students cleared their basics of cooking from her book. Probably an Indian Larousse for every student of hotel management and culinary arts. Her achievements were far and beyond exemplary. Her time and effort spent servicing the wider community was a true reflection of her hard work and her fighting spirit. Even in her final few days she was in her finest form. Her light will burn on, in those she has touched and we are honoured to have been around during her life timeand we salute her for her lifelong dedication to her craft.

A rigorous curriculum in ‘The Art of Cookery’ at IHMC&N, Pusa, formulated and inspired by Mrs. Arora has not only successfully equipped her students with the life skills, but has also enabled them to become successful professional chefs and managers, and besides that many have done extremely well, and they have joined the list of exceptional alumni and ‘Celebrity’ status that  IHMCTAN  Pusa has produced, under her able training, mentoring  and guidance. No wonder, IHM Pusa, has been adjudged among the best Hotel Management Institutes in the country time and again. Her contributions, however, are not only confined to India, alone, but she has also been greatly instrumental in sharing her knowledge and experiences with the people of Australia.

The Early Life
She was born in Bangalore, she studied hotel management and went on become the HOD and subsequently the principal of the Institute of Hotel Management in Pusa, Delhi, India. She migrated to Australia in 1992, after retirement. Relocating to Australia after spending her life in India got her new challenges and perspectives. She had heard that Australians liked to keep to themselves and passed their time by doing community work, which she thought was a great idea. To keep herself busy she started taking up volunteer work for MECWA where she worked for seven years.  After living in Australia and getting to know the people, she developed a greater understanding of their ways of life. The Multicultural Policy she felt was one of the best things the Government introduced.

Auntyji, as she was fondly called by all in Melbourne, she started afresh by making new friends, volunteering for many projects and cooking for Meals on Wheels. She taught Asian cooking for two years at the Maribyrnong Community Centre and gave cooking demonstrations at the Immigration Museum, Girl Guides and schools. She volunteered with more than 10 community organizations, since moving to Australia. Mrs. Arora was the co-founder of the Indian Senior Citizens Association (ISCA) and also served on the Executive Committee of Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria (FIAV) as a representative of the Sangam community organisation. She also volunteered at the Malvern Opportunity Shop and been heavily involved in the Flavours of Monash festival.

Her book -Theory of Cookery
The book is aimed at students who are studying culinary science. It can also help anyone interested in food preparation and in understanding the various processes used to produce the tasty dishes that diners enjoy.
It is designed according to the syllabus defined by the National Council for Hotel Management and other catering technology institutes in India. It traces the history of cookery and explores various cuisines of the World and Indian Cuisine. It goes into kitchen and production management for students and professionals of culinary science and hotel management.

Awards and Recognition
She was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in 2013 and became the first Indian woman to be honoured with the Shilling Wall Tribute award by the multicultural commission of Victoria for her outstanding contribution to the community.
She taught Asian cooking to Australians for two years at one of the Community Centre in Western suburb of Victoria.

Picture courtesy: Google

Monday, 2 April 2018

The first lady of bartending!

I was interviewing the Management trainees for our hotels; The Park Hotels. We have various Management Training programs such as the General (GMT), Kitchen (KMT), Housekeeping (HKMT) and Hotel Operations (HOET). Something unique to our hotels is the Bar Executive Training Program (BET). We get good number of applications for this one too, over the years even girls have started applying for the BET program. I remember a few of them, extremely good profiles; on asking them their reasons to choose bars over the GMT program, most of them say that Ms. Shatbhi Basu is their inspiration. I have heard this so many times over the years. I know Ms. Basu and the kind of work that she has done, she is simply anything but ordinary woman!  Coming back to the BET program and the girls who apply for it, do they know the real Shatbhi Basu? The glamour of the bar and the high spirited environment cannot define the first lady of Mixology, rightly hailed as the bar guru of India. A lady who is a living example of the saying, ‘There is nothing a woman can’t achieve if she puts her mind to it’.  Ms. Basu is a legend and has been a force to reckon with in the male-dominated industry.
Finally I got an opportunity to speak to her over the phone; I wanted ‘her story’ for our website, Indian Women in Hospitality. She is such a warm person, I didn’t feel as if this was the first time I was having a conversation with her. She has a great voice, with that kind of voice behind the bar, who wouldn’t order an extra drink? I am a fan of ‘good voices’ and she is one of my favorites now.

When she started her career 38 years ago, she aspired to be a chef but that dream fell flat, as hotel kitchens were not really ready to accept a woman in their domain. She then had to look for a role in the restaurant operations. The experience she says turned out to be an eye opener for her, she realised that knowing a recipe was quite different from actually making a drink! Being the only woman in the field, was a challenge in itself. In her initial days learning the ropes of the trade were tough and support from the industry was scarce. In 1980, when she wanted to learn bartending there was no mixology school and the established bartenders were not really happy about sharing information or passing on the skills; these circumstances made it difficult for her to learn the craft. But she didn’t let these challenges be a downer for her, instead she set out on a mission to learn on her own and in the best way that she could. In fact she learned the skills of a bartender after she was already a manager!  She is self taught- learnt things she needed to know with the help of a bartending manuals and inputs from friends and family. At that time the access to international products was limited, she had to find suitable substitutes and work with them. It inspired her to make great stuff with ‘whatever’ was available. In due course of time she learnt to creatively use the local ingredients to make up for the lack of traditional ones.  For instance, she rustled her first dry martini without ‘dry vermouth’, made her first Pina Colada without ‘Malibu’ or coconut cream and she put together a Black Russian with home brewed coffee liqueur. 
Bartending back then was looked at, as a career for ‘men only’. Undeterred by this stereotype, she embarked on a journey with a mixer and glasses as her weapons; there has been no looking back ever since. All credit goes to her for changing mindsets, breaking the shackles, and ruffling perceptions. She had the strength, conviction and knowledge to combat the biases and she continues to raise the bar; all along creating new benchmarks for herself and for the others to follow. Soon the male bartenders as well as the customers began believing in her and trusting her skills behind the bar. Perseverance did pay off and she was appreciated for her creativity and innovation. She is full of ideas and possesses the skills and attitude of a great bartender; understanding the customer’s needs by carefully observing them. She keeps her guests happy and curious and believes in evolving new drinks as well as flavours; taking great care in food and beverage pairing ; and a heady conversation to complement it.

If you see no path make one; holds true for her. Having experienced the lack of right guidance at the beginning of her career, she went on to set up an institution to mentor new professionals in taking the crucial ‘first steps’ in mixology. She was convinced that bartending as a career was indeed the future. Her efforts bore fruits and the academy was launched in 1998 at Mahim, in Mumbai. STIR, become India’s first school for aspiring bartenders. Today it offers comprehensive training in the basics of bartending, right from bar ethics to bar acrobatics. She has also authored ‘The Can’t Go Wrong Book of Cocktails’; a comprehensive guide to cocktails and alcoholic beverages for the Indian consumer. These are her two other major contributions that have been able to create awareness, educate as well as facilitate the art of mixology and bartending.

Despite the benchmarks created by her, there is still under representation of women in the field. Her advice to the young professionals and students is, “Choose your career path wisely. Do it because you love it. Be passionate about your work and give it everything. Be inspired by others but be yourself. Believe in yourself, your vision for yourself and in everything that you do. You and only you have the power to control your destiny. Be the best that you can be always. Don't think of yourself as a woman trying to find your place among men but be a professional right on the top”. 

The Early Life
She is a Bombay girl, did her schooling from St. Teresa’s Convent, Mumbai and her college from Mithibai College of Arts and Science. She completed her Hotel management Course from IHM Mumbai in 1980.  She comes from a family that was well educated and well traveled; it was also her constant source of information and support. Her aunts and uncles from around the world sent her books and information to ‘up’ her knowledge. Her friends she says; were the guinea pigs and the force that kept her grounded. When asked about the challenges she faced as a woman in the industry she says, ”Absolutely none! I have been respected for the work that I have done and my contribution to the skill of bartending. My only challenge was the lack of information when I began”.

Ms. Shatbhi Basu admits the going was tough, but she took all challenges head on, never using circumstances as an excuse to back out. She had a dream and worked diligently to achieve it. She believed in herself and it’s her commitment, dedication as well as focus that have brought her to where she is today. She believes in her own instincts, is a constant learner and preaches only what she can practice. Innovating and taking up new challenges gives her a high; designing bars being one of them. She brought to the bar counter what was missing in the traditional ones, adding a degree of sophistication, creating a great ambience and focusing on the comfort of those working behind the counter. In fact she wanted a makeover of the menu being served as well and started the art of fine dining; making wines an integral part of the dining experience. Ever since she created a niche for herself, women have begun to enroll into professional bartending programs and Ms. Basu has been the change maker!

Awards and recognition
·    She has been awarded two Lifetime Achievement awards - from professionals and people who appreciated her contribution to the hospitality industry. Initiated and currently is head of the first institution for professional bartending in India, STIR - Academy Of Bartending, Mumbai
·    Authored the first comprehensive guide to alcoholic beverages and cocktails relevant to Indian conditions - The Can't Go Wrong Book Of Cocktails
·         She is a consultant with over 50 reputed organizations since 1998
·         She designed the first SS modular bar in India in 1998
·         She was appointed the first American Whiskey Ambassador for India 2013 - 2016
·     She’s awarded a Gold by Spiritz Magazine for being a great "Friend of the Industry" (the alcobev industry)
·        Host and content advisor to NDTV for the show `In High Spirits’ on NDTV Good Times
·     Was consultant to Focus Brands – for Campari, Jose Cuervo, Marie Brizard Liqueurs, Skyy Vodka, Cinzano, Cutty Sark, Glen Rothes
·      Trainer with Aspri Spirits on Stoli, Roberto Cavalli, Molinari Sambuca, Amarula, Diva Cachaca, Skyy.
·     Consultant to INS Hamla, the catering school and training centre for the Indian Navy
·     Consulted on training, brand extensions and launch strategy for Diageo on Ciroc Vodka, Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Vat 69…
·     Was instrumental in the creation and execution of Smirnoff Tastemaker Sessions and Smirnoff Bartending Sessions

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