Balancing Act: Prioritizing Well-being in Hospitality Leadership – Lakshmi Sridhar

Lakshmi Sridhar, an accomplished hospitality professional with 28 years of experience, currently serves as General Manager at Novotel Visakhapatnam Varun Beach and The Bheemili Resort. With over 11 years at Accor, she ascended from secretary to Operations Manager before assuming her current leadership position. As GM, she oversees all aspects of hotel and resort operations, leveraging her extensive industry knowledge to drive growth and success. Lakshmi provides strategic direction, ensuring alignment with organizational objectives, and excels in financial management, operations, HR, customer relations, risk mitigation, and marketing strategies. Her role is integral to maintaining efficient processes and achieving organizational excellence.

In connection with International Women’s Day 2024, Lakshmi Sridhar, a vibrant and proactive General Manager at Novotel Visakhapatnam Varun Beach and The Bheemili Resort engaged in an in-depth discussion with the Tourism India editorial team on this year’s theme. Excerpts from their interaction shed light on her insights and experiences.

As a woman in hotel operations, what strategies do you employ to ensure efficient and smooth day-to-day management of the property?

By embracing a culture of delegation of authority and placing trust in the team members, organizations can effectively empower their workforce, thereby fostering an environment conducive to achieving efficiency and productivity. This approach not only encourages autonomy and decision-making at various levels but also minimizes the need for micromanagement, allowing employees to flourish and reach their full potential. Effective delegation of authority is akin to distributing power wisely within the organization, resulting in a more agile, innovative, and responsive team that can adapt swiftly to challenges and opportunities in a dynamic work environment.

How do you approach marketing strategies in the hospitality industry to appeal to diverse audiences while also promoting gender equality and empowerment?

By exemplifying strong and successful women in leadership roles and highlighting their contributions to the industry, we can foster a culture of gender equality and empowerment in our marketing strategies. Through inclusive and diverse representation, we can reach out to various audiences and inspire change towards a more inclusive and equitable hospitality landscape.

What measures do you take in human resources to foster a supportive and inclusive work environment for women, including addressing issues like equal pay and career advancement?

To foster a supportive and inclusive work environment for women and address issues like equal pay and career advancement, We host monthly ladies-focused forum meetings. Additionally, we closely monitor salary comparisons with the HR department to ensure equitable compensation in the market for specific positions.

Can you share examples of successful diversity and inclusion programs you’ve implemented within your hospitality organization, particularly focusing on the empowerment of women?

“1. Comprehensive Leadership Development Program for Heartists: Mentorship, workshops, networking, and guidance to advance careers.

2. Flexible Work Arrangements: Remote options, and flexible hours for better work-life balance.

3. Specially-Abled & Women Inclusion: Equal employment opportunities & accommodations for success.

4.  Inclusion: Supportive workplace with resources, non-discriminatory policies & Pride events.

5. Diversity Awareness Training: Foster understanding, empathy, and respect for diverse backgrounds.

Committed to a workplace where all feel valued, respected, and empowered to reach their full potential.”

How do you navigate challenges such as gender stereotypes or biases in the hospitality industry, particularly in roles traditionally dominated by men?

When faced with gender stereotypes or biases in the hospitality industry, particularly in male-dominated roles, I believe in leading by example and showcasing women’s capabilities. By confidently asserting our thoughts and embracing inclusivity, we break through barriers and foster a more diverse and equitable industry.

As a woman in hospitality leadership, what steps do you take to mentor and support other women in their career advancement within the industry?

As a woman in hospitality leadership, fostering a supportive and inclusive work environment is crucial for mentoring and advancing other women in the industry. We prioritize creating a flexible work environment that empowers women to balance their career aspirations with personal responsibilities. We also make sure to involve them in decision-making processes and recognize their contributions to value creation within the organization. Additionally, We provide one-on-one counselling sessions to offer guidance and support, regularly checking in to address any challenges or concerns they may face. Together, we work to curate personalized career roadmap that aligns with their goals and ambitions, helping them navigate their professional journey with confidence and purpose.

How do you ensure a healthy work-life balance for yourself and your team in demanding roles such as hotel operations or marketing?

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial in roles like hotel operations or marketing. I prioritize self-care through activities like reading and music. For my team, I ensure flexible working hours to accommodate individual needs, promoting well-being and productivity in a supportive environment.

What innovations or advancements do you foresee in the hospitality industry that could further empower women in roles like housekeeping, marketing, and human resources?

As the Lady General Manager of our hotel, I envision a future in the hospitality industry where we fully embrace technology to enhance efficiency and empower women in various roles. For housekeeping, I foresee the development of robotic assistants and smart cleaning equipment that can handle mundane tasks, allowing our female staff to focus on delivering more personalized and higher-quality service to our guests. In marketing, data analytics and artificial intelligence will play a crucial role in targeting diverse audiences and creating inclusive campaigns that resonate with women. As for human resources, I believe in implementing flexible work arrangements, mentorship programs, and leadership training to support the growth and advancement of women in our organization. By staying ahead of industry trends and fostering a culture of inclusivity and empowerment, we will undoubtedly pave the way for female leadership to thrive in the hospitality sector.

Can you share a personal story or anecdote that highlights the importance of investing in women professionals in the hospitality sector?

Growing up in Delhi and transitioning to Vizag presented challenges, but with support from family and mentors, I progressed from executive secretary to general manager. This journey underscores the transformative power of investing in women professionals in hospitality, paving the way for an inclusive and thriving industry.

In the hospitality industry, the presence and leadership of women are not just desirable but essential. As a woman in a leadership role, I believe in infusing a feminine touch into my work, emphasizing emotional connections with my team members and prioritizing relationship building. Being part of a supportive ecosystem like Accor and Varun Hospitality has allowed me to flourish, being recognized for my talents, knowledge, and credibility. Here, women are empowered to showcase their potential, express their creativity, and make a tangible impact within the industry.

The value of investing in women professionals in the hospitality sector extends far beyond individual achievements; it paves the way for a more inclusive, innovative, and thriving industry where diverse perspectives can shine. I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given, and I am committed to paying it forward by championing the advancement of women in hospitality.

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