If we thought 2020 was tough, 2021 will be tougher: Parul Thakur

In an exclusive interview with BW HOTELIER, Parul Thakur, Senior Area Director Sales and Distribution, South Asia at Marriott International talks about the challenges faced by women working in the hospitality industry.

How easy or difficult has your journey been as a woman in the hospitality industry?

I have been part of Marriott International for most of my working career. My journey has been incredible to say the least. The toughest phase for a working woman is always when she is in the family way. The flexibility shown by my then bosses was the reason I could ensure I continued to pursue my career while having the flexibility of taking care of my daughters when they were born. I have loved my journey so far which has been a rewarding career filled with beautiful experiences, leading and nurturing winning teams and growing business from strength to strength. I  look forward to many more fruitful years. 

Why do we see a very limited number of women in management positions in this industry?

The hospitality industry is a demanding one that requires long hours of hard work and dedication. Also depending on the department that one works in determines the shifts that need to be worked. Once women get in the family way, they struggle to continue to work in shifts and thus most women decide to shift industries or take a break. As a result the number of women in the management positions is very low.

 What is your take on Gender pay gap and how are you planning to deal with it?

I haven’t encountered it in Marriott International either personally or when I was the General Manager of the hotels I managed. Pay salaries are always determined by experience, aptitude and attitude and not gender.   

2020 has been a difficult year for the hospitality industry. How do you look at it and What are your predictions for 2021?

2020 has been a year like no other. It has shaken the very basics of existence and how we work. It has been a year that has equalized a number of things. If we thought 2020 was tough, 2021 will be tougher. It will be, hopefully a year of rebuilding for the future. It will require hard work and tenacity. Companies and teams will need to put their best put forward to beat the competition. Leaders will need to get teams to work together in rebuilding and driving business.

What measures should be taken to make the hospitality industry more welcoming for the women ?

There is an urgent need to build infrastructure and flexibility for women so they can continue to build their careers in hospitality. Creche for infants and toddlers will help women continue working while knowing that their children are taken care of. Other industries do it effectively. Flexibility with working hours and adjusting shifts will help a great deal.

 What would you suggest to all the young women who want to be a part of this industry?

Women should seriously consider working and pursuing a career in hospitality. It provides a great working culture that is safe and secure. If they have the passion and grit, hospitality is a wonderful career choice. There are a number of women now in senior management positions that can be mentors and will be happy to show the way.



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