Saba Dhanani – a daughter, a wife and a mother is the director of operations at Sayaji Hotels – a chain of leading hotels in tier-II and III cities founded by Raoof Razak Dhanani. Her achievements bring to the life the meaning of woman power in the hospitality sector in India. In conversation with Akshay Nayak, Dhanani highlights how she is breaking the glass ceiling
How has the hospitality industry changed over the years in terms of inclusivity of women in leadership roles?
In an industry that used to see women being restricted to roles in the front office, spa operations and communications, the hospitality industry supports equal opportunity for everyone. Hotels all over are now making diversity an integral part of their hiring strategy and are giving out specific mandates for hiring women at senior level management.
What challenges and opportunities do you face holding the leadership role?
With changing times I realised the potential of the digital platforms and decided to introduce it in our company. Initially, it was quite a task to bring out the transition in the thought process of the workforce while working with Gen X and Gen Y. From catching up to the pace along with guiding them parallel to gaining their trust, digital marketing is here to stay.
How do you manage work-life balance?
My family is my strength and having a very supportive husband really helps in maintaining that balance. Passion for work helps one truly be the best version of themselves and that in turn helps you to be the best at work and home.
What steps did you take to break the glass ceiling?
I believe that the most successful women are risk-takers. Rather than waiting until everything is perfectly aligned, I embrace my mistakes and turn them into learning experiences. Understanding the potential of the digital platform was the stepping stone my career demanded.
Your mantra to keep yourself motivated and empower more women to join the hospitality force.
My sons are very important factors for keeping me motivated as I want them to see my work to achieve something substantial so that they are aware that gender does not play a role in success. It gives me the utmost satisfaction to see my team and my vision go hand in hand. The fight is always a bit harder for the women as breaking the glass ceiling is an ongoing battle. Indian mentality has stemmed from patriarchy. We are here to change that and we are here to stay!