It’s official, India has a new GM and his name is Kshitij Gandhi. After a fierce selection process and a series of challenging assessments, Kshitij rose to the top in a group of highly-talented future hospitality superstars. We caught up with him straight after the ceremony to get his take on the experience.
Launched in July, the 2019 Next GM of India competition was a joint initiative led by Les Roches and The Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL). The aim of the campaign was to address the skills gap in Indian luxury hospitality and prepare the next generation of leaders to support the growth in the industry. The winner would receive a full scholarship to Les Roches’ MBA in Global Hospitality Management in Switzerland and a place on an IHCL fast-track development programme. That winner was Kshitij Gandhi.
Introducing: the next GM of India, Kshitij Gandhi
A passionate hotelier motivated towards continuous self-development, Kshitij’s career to date has seen him embark on a MIT program and specialize in Sales & Marketing. He used this experience, combined with a lifelong passion for hospitality, to see-off a field of 410 applicants and nine fellow finalists to become the 2019 Next GM of India.
Before the champagne corks had landed at the winner’s ceremony, we grabbed Kshitij backstage for chat.
You’ve won the competition – how does it feel?
“It feels exhilarating to have won the competition for the next General Manager, partnered by Les Roches and the Indian Hotels Company Limited. I am exhilarated and can’t wait to start college with the best brand that’s out there and come back to my parent company and achieve a legacy.”
What was it like, winning against nine other finalists?
“I think all of us are winners, we all managed to get the best out of ourselves thanks to the guidance that we received at each step from the faculty and industry.”
What was the toughest part of the final selection event?
“The toughest part of the competition was the simulation. It was a real-time study across geographies, coming to a profit and loss statement and figuring out the profitability of the company, while also deriving the best we can from the elements within the company.”
What has been your background in hospitality to date?
“My hospitality background ranges from the Institute of Hotel Management Pusa, New Delhi, where I studied for three years and then I was part of the Taj Management in Training Program. This was an expedited 18-month course for grooming the next manager in place. From there I started as a lobby manager and progressed gradually to sales and marketing.”
Why did you choose a career in hospitality?
“Hospitality as a career was a natural calling right after school. I had an inclination towards hotels and an inclination towards interacting with guests from global cultures, I wanted to understand how the tourism and the hospitality sector of India and across the globe functions. For me hospitality was always the first choice and it was something that I stuck by.”
What do you think makes a great General Manager?
“The most important task for a General Manager to tackle is to ensure that the hotel moves progressively forward, while also ensuring that the people resource that we have are constantly developing.”
“A GM should help grow team members, while also ensuring that the bottom line and the top line is well maintained. The General Manager position in a hotel is probably the most important position for anyone to undertake.”
Is there a Taj hotel that you’d especially like to become GM of? And why?
“The hotel I would like to be the next General Manager of is the Taj Mahal Palace Towers in Bombay. It’s the flagship hotel for the Indian Hotels Company Limited, it’s also the hotel that I interned at and that started my hospitality career.”
Are you looking forward to the field trips to Chicago and Shanghai?
“I’m eagerly looking forward to the field trips, these are two metropolitan cities of the world that come with their own unique hospitality experiences, cultural diversity and learning opportunities.”
You’re soon to head to Les Roches – have you ever travelled to Europe before?
“I’ve never been to that part of the world before, Europe comes with its cultural diversity and that’s the place where I want to start my studies at the best college to partner with.”
Finally – are you ready to become the Next GM of India?
“Yes, I’m ready to be the Next General Manager of India”
Congratulations to all of our other finalists: Jatin Bhandari, Justin Khodaiji, Ganesh Parmeshwar, Nivesh Bhagtani, Vineet Kumar Singh, Vasant Ravindran, Ankita Bhatt, Amrinder Bains and Megha Bhatia. And special congratulations to Kshitij on being named the Next GM of India – the next step in his leadership hospitality career has already begun on the MBA in Global Hospitality Management at the Les Roches Crans-Montana campus in Switzerland.
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