Empowering Hospitality Leadership: Insights from Kadambari Sabharwal Talwar, GM at Courtyard by Marriott Bengaluru Hebbal

Kadambari Sabharwal Talwar, General Manager at Courtyard by Marriott Bengaluru Hebbal, shares insights on her strategies for efficient hotel management, marketing approaches, fostering an inclusive work environment, diversity initiatives, navigating gender biases, mentoring women in leadership, ensuring work-life balance, future innovations in the hospitality sector, and personal anecdotes on the importance of investing in women professionals. She emphasizes prioritizing daily efforts and team engagement, promoting creativity, maximizing revenue while enhancing guest experiences, and ensuring fair HR practices. Through initiatives like “Life on Time,” the organization fosters holistic well-being among associates. Talwar envisions multiskilling and workplace flexibility to empower women further, citing her journey as evidence of the organization’s commitment to supporting women’s potential, highlighting the importance of mutual support in the workplace.

With an illustrious career spanning over two decades in the hospitality industry, Kadambari Sabharwal Talwar brings a unique blend of expertise and passion to her role as General Manager at Courtyard by Marriott Bengaluru Hebbal. Known for her adeptness in ensuring seamless hotel operations, devising innovative sales and marketing strategies, and fostering enduring connections within the industry, Kadambari is poised to fortify the hotel’s brand presence in the city. Her visionary leadership, strategic acumen, and unwavering commitment to creating enchanting guest experiences are set to propel the hotel to new heights of success. With a proven track record of maximizing revenue, nurturing partnerships, and holding esteemed positions such as Hotel Manager at Four Points by Sheraton Whitefield and Market Director of Sales and Marketing in Bengaluru and Mumbai, Kadambari is recognized as a trailblazer in luxury hospitality.

To commemorate International Women’s Day 2024, Kadambari Sabharwal Talwar, an accomplished and dynamic General Manager at Courtyard by Marriott Bengaluru Hebbal, participated in a detailed discussion with the Tourism India editorial team regarding the theme of the year. Insights and experiences shared during this interaction offer valuable perspectives on her leadership journey.

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

I believe it’s beneficial to approach this question from a slightly different angle. As leaders, many of us prioritize consistent daily efforts and fostering strong team engagement to achieve exceptional outcomes. I place significant emphasis on encouraging creativity and innovative thinking among our team members, rather than adhering to repetitive routines. Striking a balance between maximizing revenue and enhancing guest experiences is paramount. My unwavering dedication to guest satisfaction, maintaining an environment built on integrity, and diligently managing both revenue and expenses are central to my leadership focus.

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

In our organization, we adopt a multifaceted marketing approach tailored to our diverse audience. The Brand Marketing team focuses on crafting content and positioning for our operating brand. At the hotel level, our strategies are geared towards localized activations in the Food and Beverage sector, as well as highlighting unique selling points that appeal to a broader market segment. We prioritize empowerment and gender equality initiatives, which are underscored by guest feedback and the experiences we curate for them on-site. Recognizing the individual preferences of each guest, our teams strive to tailor their stay accordingly. Our Trip Advisor ranking among the Top 7 hotels in Bangalore serves as a testament to our dedicated efforts in this regard.

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?

At our property, we prioritize selecting the most qualified individual for each role, irrespective of gender. We aim to cultivate a workforce that is both diverse and fair. Central to this goal is the ongoing process of educating and collaborating with our current staff (associates) to foster a more inclusive mindset. This is a collective commitment we all share and actively work towards advancing.

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

Yes definitely.

As an organization, we have invested in programs and collaborations to employ women from unprivileged backgrounds. In some cases, we work with NGOs of high repute in this field.

We are also working with an organization to upskill associates to aid their learning and growth. This helps to build their confidence and teamwork.

Additionally, we have a working Women Ambassador group at different regional levels who formally and informally work with the women in the organization to coach them. We are consciously working on developing a structured mentoring program to drive stronger efforts in this direction.

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

This question has been asked to me many a time and I constantly say, “While it is still a male-dominated industry, the landscape is changing. Education, Awareness and Marketing have all been bringing a positive change and women today are carving their way in this field too.” To support what I just said, I would like to tell you that in Bangalore alone we have 7 hotels of the Marriott being led by Lady General Managers and Hotel Managers.

The acceptability of having women in leadership roles has grown tremendously.

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

I strongly believe in community engagement and giving back. As a member of the Marriott South Asia Women Ambassador Network and the WICCI council for the Karnataka chapter in hospitality, I actively contribute to the development of mentorship programs and collaborations aimed at nurturing and advancing women’s talent within the hospitality sector. It’s my way of making a positive impact and supporting the growth of individuals in our community.

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

Achieving a perfect work-life balance is a challenge, and I acknowledge the need for improvement in my quality of life. I prioritize “me time” and family moments amidst work commitments. As a travel enthusiast, I cherish exploring new places during my time off.

On an organizational level, we’ve initiated “Life on Time,” a program dedicated to providing our associates with the freedom to engage in activities they enjoy. This encompasses pursuing hobbies, spending time with family, watching movies, working out, and exploring new destinations. It reflects our commitment to promoting a holistic approach to life and well-being among our team members.

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

I foresee a growing emphasis on multiskilling and integrated roles, accompanied by increased workplace flexibility. Organizations are expected to invest significantly in benefits that specifically support and empower working women. This shift reflects a broader commitment to adaptability and inclusivity in the evolving landscape of work.

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

We, as women in leadership positions, stand as living testament to our organizations’ commitment to investing in our potential. I’d be delighted to share my journey as well. It began when I was promoted to the role of Market Director for Sales and Marketing across all Marriott properties in Mumbai. This advancement coincided with the birth of my child, initially stirring feelings of uncertainty. Yet, with unwavering support from the organization and invaluable mentors, I found the confidence to navigate this dual responsibility. Their belief in my abilities fueled my pursuit of excellence. This experience emphasized the significance of mutual support in the workplace. The organization’s empathy and trust in my capabilities have left a lasting impact, serving as a crucial catalyst in my journey to my current leadership position.

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