The Mountain Walker recently started a series on the aspirations, thoughts, learnings, and world view of people from the Himalayan states of India. Over the last few years, scores of talented and educated professionals from Himachal Pradesh, Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, and Darjeeling have been pouring out of their Himalayan abodes and seeking opportunities in the cities and metros of India. This series is about them, and by them.
This week we are publishing an interview with Shikha Nainwal, a Hospitality industry professional from Uttarakhand with a decade of experience including a long stint with the Oberoi Group of hotels.
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I belong to Uttarakhand which is well known for scenic hill-stations, pilgrimages, adventure and trekking. As of now, I work and live in Udaipur which is known as a ‘City of Lakes’.
Where and what did you study?
I did my schooling from ABM Higher Senior Secondary School till 10th standard and then 12th from DAV Public School (Commerce stream) in Haldwani. After that I completed my Bachelor of Commerce, and Master of Commerce from MBPG College, Haldwani.
What kind of work do you do?
I am a core hotel industry professional and I have completed 10 years with Oberoi group. My job is to handle hotel operations (Front Office), however I have also handled administrative work, having worked with the General Managers of hotels and Human Resources activities. We are specially connected with our guests since hotel industry teams work to optimise the space and create an inviting atmosphere.
What tools, technologies have you learned?
As independent hotel industry professionals, we have to constantly market our hotel to attract steady business, and we have to use many tools for that like our website, social media, Events, Advertising, Promotional events, Networking and the most important tool – “word of mouth”!
Technology is constantly being developed to simplify Planners’ lives. With the help of technology, the travel and hospitality industry is now able to reach more people than ever before. Hotels and brands have a variety of training methods to make you understand many things in a simple way. For me, it is a wonderful experience to learn different software and ensure that individuals and teams are computer and mobile savvy. And with newer concepts emerging such as Service automation, most of the backend activity in a hotel relies directly or indirectly on technology, making IT more important to hotel operations and the guest experience than ever before.
Which are your dream companies to work for?
The list of best places to work in India is usually based on ‘employer ratings’ and reviews, and in India we have many brands to work for. For me my dream companies would be Oberoi Group, Marriott, Leela, Taj, Hyatt, IHG, Lemon Tree, Hilton, and Four Seasons among others.
Would you get a job to suit your skills in your Himalayan Hometown?
Yes, definitely, as Uttrakhand is known for its beauty and there are many hotel brands trying their luck to establish sustainable business. Himachal Pradesh is also a good career option since there are many hotels which are running fabulously.
What kind of companies / opportunities do you wish for in your state ?
We wish to expand our footprint in India. The state is extending various kind of infrastructure support to encourage more, and Uttarakhand has a vast investment potential in areas like tourism, agriculture, forestry, pharmaceutical sectors. Our people are so talented, hardworking and versatile. We wish to have lot more opportunities so that we can invest the best to make our state proud and grow in tourism sector.
Where do you hope to be in your career in 2 years, 5 years, 10 years?
My goal right now is to find a position at a company where I can grow and take on new challenges over time. Ultimately, I would like to assume more management responsibilities and get involved in product strategy. But most importantly, I want to work for an organization where I can build a career.
How many of your batchmates are working in your home state and how many are working outside in cities?
I would not be able to give you the exact number of people, however, can tell you in figures that approximately 10 to 15 batchmates are working in my home state and 20 to 25 batchmates are working outside in cities.
Which are the best colleges in your home state in your perception?
We have many Colleges and Universities in our hometown now and we also have many options to hold a stream – earlier we were not having these many options. If someone wants to pursue MBA, Hotel Management, Engineering, Technology, Doctorate etc, they now have everything at one place. We are very thankful to our society and government to support our youth everywhere in terms of education. We have Amrapali Institution, Pantnagar University, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, Birla Institution of Applied Sciences, Graphic Era University, Kumaun University and many more.
Who are your top 5 idols?
We meet many people in our journey and we have to face each and every situation of life. We learn many things from these situations and it depends upon us if we grab positive part of it or a negative part of life and my idols have taught me to grab the best and learn from the worst so I have listed few important people of my life who gave me an opportunity as well as an aim for my career. They have put in their time, faith, hardwork and knowledge in me to help me make my own identity in this world. My idols are Mr. Akhil Arora, Mr. Dhiraj Mehta, Ms. Celina Joy, Major Agnihotri, Mr. D.P. Bhatia, Mr. Arun Paliwal, Ms. Shipra Bhagra and Mr. Rahul Jain.
Please provide us a brief background sketch – home town, ancestral village, and interests/hobbies and current city.
I was born in Uttarakhand also called as “Devbhumi – Land of the Gods”. My hometown is Haldwani. Recently I visited my hometown in Uttarakhand, village Puranpur Nainwal – it was my first visit after a few years of hectic stressful life in the city. The village is nestled in the Kumaon hills. The weather is gorgeous, all around the year. Most of our farm produce is organic. No fertilizers are used in growing gahat, jhingora, pind-aloo, rajma. We eat healthy. Cows are all grass-fed, the milk tastes sooo much more better! You find amazing alternative methods of recreation: teaching little kids, walking, reading, socialising with other people.
For anyone “born and brought up” in the lap of nature with these bounties, city life is not easily acceptable, however I had to adapt and have accepted city life too. My hobbies are traveling, dancing, listening to music and I am very much connected on social media.
As of now I am living in Rajasthan, Udaipur which is the city of lakes and colours. I have travelled to many places in India and abroad – however, I am in love with Udaipur. Here people are so well connected with each other and celebrate each and every festival of India! This is an amazing and vibrant fact of Rajasthan. I Love India!
What vision do you have for your Himalayan home state?
In order to fulfill India’s vision of being sustainable, development in the context of climate change and education – specially for girls – should be our concern. In my home state, we face many challenges though. We need to be united and respect new thinking and intervention. And I support “Clean My India”.
What advise would you give to youth who are now completing school/ college ?
It is very important to be well educated and knowledgable and the idea is that you need to be a lifelong learner if you want to make an impact, succeed and feel accomplished. The experiences you have expand your world view, give you new perspectives and make you a more interesting person.
Also, our life is a gift given by God, so live to the fullest and do not waste it. Spend quality time with your family and friends. Travel as much as you can, while learning about cultures and languages. We live in a global marketplace now and companies are looking to expand and hire the best talent, regardless of location. The more you travel and experience the world, the better you will be at serving this marketplace and taking advantage of it. Furthermore, if you’re learning new languages, you are ahead of the curve. It’s hard for companies to find workers who are fluent in languages so if that’s you, you become more marketable. Those that take risks, both inside and outside, are the real achievers.
In your opinion how can governments balance development and environmental /cultural traditions?
A true economic system is based on inventory and is a balanced system. A balance between environmental, economic, and social sustainability is the key to planning success. Improved regulations, better education, better resources are the most important facts. Respecting Traditions and Culture and connection with locals can increase the sense of regional identity. It respects the fragile environmental balance.
(If you belong to one of the Himalayan states and have something to contribute to this series, write in to: firstname.lastname@example.org)