Interview with Lalima Mathur General Manager, Elite Crystal Hotel.
Lalima Mathur, General Manager of Elite Crystal Hotel stands out among her contemporaries being the only woman General Manager in the Hospitality sector of the Kingdom. Gulf Insider brings forth her unique journey so far our readers.
How do you respond to the title of being the only woman General Manager in the Hospitality sector of the Kingdom?
For years yes it was a good feeling to be recognized as the First Lady premiere of hospitality but I am even more thrilled to know I have very good company now although we haven’t met so far. For me it’s the most natural thing to be in my position. I take the challenges and do my best as any other individual would, regardless of the gender. But trust me I don’t see any favoritism in my company or in dealing with other stakeholders like our partner vendors, guests or even the Government and that is quite a relief.
What inspired you to become an Hotelier?
It’s about being a people person. Three decades ago the opportunities to meet & professionally socialize with people were rather limited. Being a hotelier provided the platform that I wanted. Needless to say the passion was born almost instantly and I knew this was my calling and I was able to steer my career in the right direction.
What is your most favorite role in this career?
As a team leader the ability to inspire and perhaps help a lot of youngsters develop their career and kindle that spark they have for this business. And yes of course the ability to build memories for our guests who are here either on vacation or on business. At this stage of my career – for most of it I am behind the scenes but the feeling is still the same.
What do you consider as the MUST HAVE quality of a Hotelier?
Patience – I guess the ability to diminish ones’ ego and focus on the issue at hand and deal with an unhappy guest. While we all aspire for excellence – things do go wrong and how one reacts in those times defines a professional.
What is next for Elite Group International?
After building a strong reputation in Bahrain, I guess it is natural for us to have regional aspirations and of course to constantly upgrade and update our products.
Bahrain is a country where people from different parts of the world travel for business. How do you manage to offer the best service to people from diverse backgrounds?
Our team of managers and staff come from diverse backgrounds and cultures. This really helps us to deliver guest expectations. At the heart of good hospitality is just a willingness to please and a passion to excel and that emotion cuts across cultures – yes we have a rather strong recruitment process to ensure we get the right energy into the system but it still requires constant training and close supervision.
If you were not in this career, what other profession you would have chosen?
Although it’s difficult to imagine any other profession, I guess I would be a teacher. It might sound cliche but I feel with my skill of “patience” this might have been a good option – although my daughter and husband might disagree.
This year, the Women’s Day celebrations are associated with the women Engineers in the Kingdom. What is your opinion on that?
Women make great Engineers…. We are meticulous, have an eye for detail and can balance everything in the correct ratio. Frankly its tough to highlight one career stream in which ladies excel in or a career stream we don’t excel in – and I mean it with all humility but I am glad Lady engineers are being recognized for their contribution – it will certainly encourage a lot more to join the field.
Do you think that a woman should sacrifice much more than her male counterpart to attain success in her career?
No, not necessarily. It can be vice versa too. It depends on the opportunities one gets and of-course the rest is individual abilities and skills. But yes the common known practice is for the Ladies to compromise but I see a big change with the Millenials – I am a mother of one!
Your career is proof of your success. Can you reveal the secret behind it?
Adapting to a changing environment – learning fast and sharing the learning. And of course none of this would have been possible without a supportive family and the right professional atmosphere.
Finally, what is the greatest lesson that you have learnt out of your career?
I feel I am no where close to the pinnacle so too early to comment but yes the day I am able to summarise it I promise to call you !