Kamaniya Banerjee (Alumni 2008) is the Global Operations, Rooms and Guest Experience Manager for Marriott International, based in Bethesda, Maryland.
Your career has taken you all around the world and working across a number of different departments and hotel brands. What is your most memorable career moment?
My most memorable carrier moment was returning to hospitality in a guest experience leadership role, as it reinforced my passion for the industry and job satisfaction from leading customer centric teams.
I had graduated from BMIHMS and worked for Marriott Hotels in Melbourne, Sydney, Seattle and Dubai. At that point I felt the need to step back and re-evaluate my priorities which lead to leaving work to do a full time Master of Business Administration in England. After post graduation I worked in different industries and it was not for me. That was a pivotal moment in my carrier having re-realized my true happiness and passion was fueled by hospitality.
What is your prediction/analysis for the hospitality industry in the next 12-24 months?
The COVID-19 epidemic is an unprecedented event that most of us were not prepared for however our approach to solutions and being agile will impact the rate of recovery. In the next twelve to twenty four months we will see different segments of business returning with domestic leisure travel already seeing a lift. As countries and geoeconomic regions reopen in different phases, people are starting to travel within areas where political and health guidelines mandating quarantines are being lifted. The dramatic last few months forced us to work from home, home-school and adapt to a video-call culture, however it also gave rise to the notion that people can be more mobile and work and live anywhere. This will lead to a more mobile mindset where people will travel beyond designated vacations. The inherent desire to travel and experience is only going to augment the pent up demand in the near future.
Business Travel might see a much more slower recovery due to the nature of travel in groups, conferences and the financial hit post COVID-19. Also many organizations are establishing ways to connect remotely, find workarounds for in-person meetings and investing in technology to digitize workflows. However we will see segments of business traveling recovering soon like incentive trips etc.
What advice do you have for students who are graduating this year into such a unique job market?
The Hospitality Industry is evolving rapidly and adopting technology to comply with regulations. Change is even harder when you factor in not knowing what to expect and having to constantly adapt as we find out more information and subsequently new mandates and laws. In this landscape it is imperative to be open minded and flexible. The hotels require generalists who can multitask rather than focus on single task having to streamline and cut down on labor cost.
I would advice new graduates to focus on being open to different experiences even if that is not what you envisioned in the past. Every role teaches new skillsets and when you have an understanding of different areas, you will find synergies and new ideas to improve. Now is a time when you can be part of rebuilding a lot of work places with new processes and organizational shifts. If you are searching for jobs a good place to start might be to learn about how the industry and business is impacted by COVID-19, being cognizant of the change management and communication required to educate employees and guests of new protocols etc. being a fast learner might help with devoting and implementing new processes.
You are a volunteer a mentor for BMIHMS. What appeals to you about mentoring recent graduates? Do you have a mentor who has helped you to grow your career?
The greatest satisfaction for me is being able to positively impact, assist and grow someone’s career. It is an incredible feeling to know I have made a difference and so far I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to ‘mentor’ at work and BMIHMS. I hold myself accountable to be informative, adapt to mentee’s individual style and needs and connect them with key persons who they would benefit from.
I have mentors who have guided my thought process and let my ideas flourish, encourage without imposing and support my career growth. I reach out to my mentors when I am contemplating decisions like the one where I left work to return to further education. My mentors were the sounding board and I bounced off ideas about all the pros and cons. I feel it is important to have mentors and sponsors at work and maybe even life to gain perspective from experienced veterans.
When international borders open again, where is the first place you’d like to visit and why?
I think I want to preface by saying I cannot wait to travel internationally ANYWHERE! I have had time to browse, dream and plan many vacations. I am interested in visiting one of the northern most habitation in Murmansk and take the Polar Express across Russia; I want to see the Northern Lights from a glass topped igloo hotel in Finland, I want to visit Costa Rica and learn about their sustainable and eco friendly way of living called ‘Pura Vida’. However I have to say my first international trip once the borders open will be to my parents in India and give them a big hug. I think being in isolation has made me value family and friends even more and realize the importance of a solid support system to survive epidemics and crisis.