Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Shiekh

Zia Shiekh

CEO, Svenska Hotels

Zia Shiekh has a very successful track record of building a $100 million multi-national business from scratch and growing it to an operation of over 2,000 employees with 40% profit margins. Born and brought up in Stockholm, Sweden, Mr. Shiekh has studied, worked, built businesses and supported customers across North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. With background in investment banking working with Morgan Stanley, Mr. Shiekh led and established an international call centre and business process outsourcing (BPO) company, Infowavz International, in April 2000 with financing from India’s largest venture capital fund, ICICI Ventures. In 4 years, he helped build Infowavz into one of India’s leading BPOs with blue-chip clients, including Microsoft, Louis Vuitton, Nordic Track, AT&T, HP, IBM, Dell, Daimler Benz and BT, amongst others. In April 2004, Mr. Shiekh successfully provided an exit to ICICI through a strategic sale to Stream, a global BPO company headquartered in Dallas, Texas, USA, backed by Miami-based private equity firm, HIG Capital, with over $2 billion in assets under management. Over the next five years, Mr. Shiekh turned around the loss-making Indian operations of Stream into a highly profitable organization of over 2,000 people spread across multiple locations in India, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan and Japan. In July 2008, Mr. Shiekh helped take Stream public with listing on the American Stock Exchange after which he sold his shareholding and exited Stream in April 2009 to focus on establishing a premier, high-end 5-star boutique hotel chain - Svenska Hotels. Mr. Shiekh has a Masters degree in Finance and an MBA from the London Business School and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. He has also done executive programs in hospitality at the Cornell Hotel School, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA. Svenska Design Hotels are a collection of modern boutique 5-star hotels in India based on Swedish design philosophy and contemporary European styling with clean lines and minimalist interiors. Svenska offers trend-setting concepts and chic design elements combined with signature service and personalized hospitality, creating truly memorable experiences for its discerning guests. Svenska is a lifestyle product, with hotels located in prime city centre areas or business districts, catering to every need of sophisticated luxury travellers, whether on business or pleasure. All Svenska Hotels have smart international staff handpicked from locations around the globe, who are then carefully trained in Asian hospitality to provide guests with a refined and tailored experience that is beyond 5-star. Beyond its first two hotels in India in Mumbai and Bangalore, Svenska has aggressive expansion plans across multiple Indian states, including New Delhi, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Chhattisgarh and Uttarkhand, with a 10-year vision for Year 2020 with 20 new hotels being launched across India and overseas.

Mr. Shiekh can be contacted at +91-22-44310000 or zshiekh@svenskahotels.com

Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.