Home >Mint-lounge >Features >Cool Jobs | Parul Thakur, general manager, JW Marriott Hotel

Queen of the castle

She admits to being obsessive about her job and has even been caught mumbling marketing spiel in her sleep. Parul Thakur, general manager of the new JW Marriott Hotel Bengaluru on Vittal Mallya Road, talks to us about why she loves her job and what makes it tick for her as she walks us around the property that launched this week. Edited excerpts:

What brought you into hospitality?

I started out with a very short stint for about seven months with The Hilton in New Delhi. When Marriott was opening their first property in Goa, 15 years ago, I had just moved there too. I was part of the pre-opening team. I have been with Marriott for 15 years. My choice was made pretty early when I did a hospitality internship during my postgraduation in sales and marketing. I fell in love with the external glamour of it. Also I knew the man I was getting married to was in the Indian Navy and that I would have a lot of location changes.

What makes the job tick for you?

You need to have a great amount of passion to stick to this industry. It takes hard work and long hours. It’s glamourous on the outside but the backend is a lot of work. We are always planning for one event after the other and there is never a dull day. I am extremely goal-driven as a person. I love creating and driving teams towards goals. As a result you are spending a lot of time away from your family so work needs to be made fun.

A lot of time away from family?

I do try and balance my life. I spend at least 12 hours at work so when I go home I spend all my time with my two kids. I haven’t entered the kitchen to cook in 12 years. I only have a few hours with my kids, and I would rather just focus on the them. I take small breaks periodically and go off on a holiday. Also movies are the best way to cut away from the world for 3 hours.

Is it rare for a woman to be the general manager (GM) of a property?

The trend has been changing for the last four to five years. We see more lady GMs now. Bangalore has three women heading properties as general managers, including me. Of the 19 open hotels in the Marriott group, four have women as GMs. As a group, we have always believed in diversity. Even when I joined they emphasized on hiring women and helping them grow and take more senior positions. I have honestly not faced any gender-related challenges while working here.

But the job of general manager usually goes to the food and beverage guys?

Yes, that was true. But that is changing too. One must realize that over time even property owners want return on their investments. I might not know everything about food or décor, but there are professionals to do that well. My job is to hire the right guys. A great F&B manager, or a great chef. Even when F&B people were made managers, they are expected to learn the other aspects. I haven’t done a particular thing for a long time. I started with sales and marketing. I made the switch to revenue management. Leadership role in sales and marketing. Ran operations for largest hotel, for the Renaissance hotel in Mumbai, before I got my first GM break with our property in Ahmedabad.

There are perks to the job...

There is of course the monetary benefit. I do have the option of staying on the property, but I have two children and I want to give them a life away from hotels so they can play with children their own age. I get to travel to great locations and experience great service across the world.

It is challenging to establish a niche. All the hotels are unique and have an identity of their own.

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