An exciting profession
Communication is the key: Experience and skill matters. Photo: Murali Kumar K.
For a special section on hotel and catering technology management, Education Plus spoke to a training manager of the ITC hotel chain. K. Dhinakaran of ITC Park Sheraton who has over a decade of experience in the hotel industry reveals some of the industry's requirements, and what he looks for in a fresher and more...
What are the top five books you recommend students to read?
For those who want to work in the kitchen I would urge them to pick up `Larousse Gastronomique' and Practical Cookery. Other useful books in the Hotel Industry include `The Waiter', `The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Wine, Beers, Spirits and Liqueurs', `Managing Front Office Operations', `Professional Management of Housekeeping'.
Any tips you have for students?
Communication is the key of this business. I urge students to listen to the BBC. In our country, students hesitate to speak clearly. But this is a skill they need.
I urge them to go through magazines to keep abreast of the latest in this field. Students shouldn't get stuck to their textbooks. This world changes very fast.
What are students most often unfamiliar with, when they come in as trainees?
They are stuck on their curriculum and technical knowledge. It's in the real world that they learn to apply what they have studied. I sharpen their skills.
We make sure that a student is exposed to all aspects of the hotel industry food and beverage, front office, house keeping and the kitchen.
What is the biggest misconception students have?
They think they can start off as managers. Somewhere along the line, the college also gives them this feeling. But very often, you have to start from the bottom that means cutting vegetables when you are in the kitchen to get the exposure.
But I am impressed to see that some students pick up the skills really fast and do become managers in two years. A hotel industry from outside looks like leisurely, like a lot of fun and a place to meet celebrities. But it's a lot of hardwork.
One other thing, students join a course with `influenced information'. Their parents urge them to be a chef, they hear that there are vacancies for chefs in Miami and they force themselves to be interested in that department. But that is not necessary. I always tell students that they will do well, if they like the department they are working in.
When you go for campus recruitments what is the important quality you are looking for?
He should be a very good communicator. I look for a student with an outgoing personality, who can get along with people quickly.
What is the starting salary and working hours in a hotel?
The salary depends on a student's experience, position and skills. But I guess a fresher gets paid around Rs. 5,500.
Usually, there is a nine-hour shift and work is six days a week.
The tough part?
You might have to forget about home on Sundays and festivals. You'll probably be working harder. But that's not always a hard and fast rule. There are times when you will get Sunday off.
Why do people quit?
They quit one hotel to jump for better prospects, or sometimes they go abroad for more money. Now there is a trend of catering students joining call centres for the salary. It's not a good sign if they want to come back to this field in the long run.
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