Celebrate and Support Each Other: Harleen Mehta, Vice President, Sales Operations - India, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts

An alumnus of Symbiosis Institute of Management Studies, Mehta is leading in her domain of work with excellence and grace. On an occasion of International Women’s Day, BW Hotelier spoke to Mehta, to know about her success mantra.

HARLEEN MEHTA has an unrivalled passion for hospitality that has helped her to chart out a successful sales and marketing career in the industry. Being in the industry for more than two decades, Mehta has moved from strength to strength with every professional challenge that has come her way. An alumnus of Symbiosis Institute of Management Studies, Mehta is leading in her domain of work with excellence and grace. On an occasion of International Women’s Day, BW Hotelier spoke to Mehta, to know about her success mantra.  

It is usually assumed that the Sales job are meant for men. How would you like to comment upon the statement?

In today’s day and age, women have successfully broken the glass ceiling and entered every profession, emerging as leaders and equal players. Which is why I don’t think it is fair to say that any job today is ‘meant for men’.

Having said that, I do not deny that sales have in the past seen a low representation of women. We often hear of initiatives aimed at encouraging women into STEM streams, but I feel there should also be greater awareness on why women have inherent qualities that help them be successful in sales - such as empathy and understanding. Of late, Sales across industries and especially hospitality, has been attracting a greater percentage of women, which has helped to close the gender gap. This is also due to companies such as Hyatt focusing on gender, inclusivity and diversity and introducing measures to counter any deficiencies or obstacles faced by women in the workplace. Hopefully soon, ‘sales’ will no longer be viewed as a profession for any particular gender.

Being a woman, do you face any difficulties in terms of your day to day job activities?

I think challenges exist on all levels across all fields and industries and despite the gender of the professional. Of course, there are certain challenges that are unique to women, but companies and industries have now become aware of the need for gender sensitization and tools which address the needs of women in the workplace. Contrary to what people believe, the hotel industry has evolved to meet the needs of women and provide them with an equal and safe playing field. For the past couple of years, Hyatt has a very strong Women@Hyatt program which works toward successful career planning and female leadership progression at Hyatt, which is being rolled out in India as well. It is also important to remember that it is up to us as women as well, to help break stereotypes in the workplace and act as mentors to pave the way for a more equitable workplace for other women.

What is the inspiration that drives you to reach new heights?

On a personal front, my inspiration has always come from home – from my mother. She has instilled in me both self-confidence and respect for others and made me realise that nothing is impossible and that we set the standards for ourselves. All these qualities and learnings have held me in good stead in life and in the workplace.

In my career, I have worked in large and reputed organizations including Hyatt, and have experienced different roles in different departments, ranging from operations and reservations to sales and marketing. There's learning and inspiration in whatever you do and whoever you work with. People say one should extract wisdom from the experience of those senior to you, which I completely agree with. However, I also see young blood as a source of great inspiration to evolve and stay relevant to the faster-than-ever changing times.

Our constantly evolving industry and my role which requires me to deal with different individuals continuously also requires me to constantly learn. This process of evolution and learning is very important to me.

What message would you like to convey to the 'women at work'?

There are so many women we meet every day across levels of seniority at the workplace. They excel at what they do and maintain a work-life balance juggling roles at home and at work. All these women serve as excellent examples for others. My message to all the women would be to celebrate and support each other, recognize talent, and constantly work towards honing their skills and building a successful identity for themselves.

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