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Grooming future leaders

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Institute of Hotel Management (IHM), Kolkata has a strong brand identity as east India’s premier hospitality education institution. Ranjit Chaudhury, principal of the institute talks about the changing preferences of students and the need for the industry to take good care of its trainees By Sudipta Dev

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Ranjit Chaudhury

One of the oldest hospitality management institutes in the country, Institute of Hotel Management (IHM), Kolkata was established in 1963. As the premier hospitality education institution of eastern India, in the last five decades it has produced many entrepreneurs, industry leaders and academicians who have contributed significantly to the industry and made their alma mater proud. Ranjit Chaudhury, principal, IHM Kolkata, himself an alumnus of IHM says, “I am very proud to be a part of this IHM family, first as a student and then as principal of the institute. My vision and endeavour is to be the most admired hospitality management education centre for future leaders of the hospitality industry.”

IHM Kolkata is making a significant contribution towards developing talent for hospitality industry in east India. The institution has a strong brand identity in India’s hospitality education sector. “It is different for its rich strength of experienced faculty members, state of the art labs and tremendous scope to showcase the art and skill of the students through different events which are managed by the students under the leadership of able faculty members,” states Chaudhury, pointing out that the faculty members are good coach managers not the cop managers.

Changing trends

There have been a few interesting trends recently in terms of student profile and preference. Chaudhury concedes that there is a paradigm shift of change of thoughts which is quite evident. “Earlier students used to run for engineering, but now it’s different. I have seen in spite of scoring good rank in engineering entrance, they are opting for hospitality management and are joining this profession with good amount of ideas about their future professional life,” he states, adding that, it is a positive trend for the hospitality sector.

IHM Kolkata alumni are working with leading hospitality chains across the country, and also other sectors. The institution takes pride in its placement cell which is headed by the head of department under whom four junior faculty members operate. “For the year 2011-12 and 2012-13 IHM Kolkata was adjudged and awarded Best Placement Performer among all IHMs (52 nos.) under NCHM by Ministry of Tourism, Government of India,” states Chaudhury with pride mentioning that they are hoping for a similar honour in the year 2013-14 and 2014-15, results of which are awaited.

He, however fails to accept the trend of brilliant students leaving the industry after two-five years, despite excellent campus placement. “While talking to students after their industrial training and pass out students, I find the HR policies need to be looked into. Main issues raised by them, which are very important, are the salary structure and duty hours for both trainees and fresh graduate by the hospitality industry, be it a small or a big chain,” he says, admitting that many hotel chains do not pay minimum wage (of skilled or semiskilled labours) to their employees who are graduates. “I on many occasions hear from the employers that the students lack in management skills or technical skills. I have no hesitation to admit that in our syllabus we emphasis more on skill than management inputs. To bridge the gap and make our syllabi internationally acceptable, NCHM has tied up with Lausanne Hospitality Consultancy of EHL to find the gap between our syllabi vis a vis syllabi followed internationally. The new syllabi will emphasis more on business and management studies for students not specialising Food Production,” he says. For Food Production, skill part will be more with some emphasis on business and management studies. “The new syllabus will impart sufficient inputs to students to become entrepreneur, if they do not want to continue in the industry after a few years. I shall be eagerly watching the reaction from the industry once the first batch comes out through changed syllabus, in terms of their placement and salary structure,” he states. Chaudhury’s appeal to the industry is to take good care of industrial trainees as most students lose interest in the industry during the training period. “The industry should feel the responsibility to develop their own future human capital and help institutes in developing it,” he asserts.

The institution has been conducting Hunar Se Rozgar Tak (HSRT) training for several years now. IHM Kolkata has from time to time been involved in other projects. For instance, in June 2015, they conducted ‘in situ’ training for the staff and managers of West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation on hospitality, guest handling, menu items, etc. They have also undertaken consultancy services for renovating and refurbishing VVIP guest house, guest rooms, dinning area and canteen of Damodar Valley Corporation at their head quarter. They have also done consultancy services in setting up VVIP rooms, student hostel rooms, dining room and kitchen of Indian Institute of Foreign Trade at Kolkata campus.

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