Joint Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer
AIANA Hotels and Resorts LLC
Quick chat with Amruda Nair, Member of Dwenindia
What drives you daily as an entrepreneur?
As an entrepreneur my role has been to develop a new brand under the AIANA flag that is unique, innovative and seen as game-changer in the hospitality space. I like to call it Hospitality 2.0! As Joint Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Aiana, I am responsible for designing the brand’s signature programming as well as spearheading the company’s overall business development to create a unique proposition that will define the next wave of smart hospitality.
How do you see women entrepreneurs in India today and how can this community leverage to learn from each other?
I would like to reply with focus on the hospitality industry where women were already present in large numbers. Globally women have had leadership positions in industry with legendary Kathleen Taylor at the Four Seasons and Jennifer Fox, President of Fairmont Hotels. Women in India are also increasingly evolving in leadership positions. For example we had Jyotsna Suri succeeding Lalit Suri at Bharat Hotels and Priya Paul taking over the mantel at the Park Hotel Group.
As an entrepreneur, what is your advice to others who are trying to find a foothold on their own, especially women.
If there was one thing I would like to share with fellow women professionals, it is that in a work environment you must never hesitate to grab an opportunity. Raise your hand, ask for what you want, share an idea or like Sheryl Sandberg says in her book “take a seat at the table”. By planning ahead you can make the most efficient use of your time and be there when you have to be. Being conscious of the choice you are making and taking ownership of it is the first step. The key is to be fully present where you are and be clear on boundaries between work and personal life.
Tell us a little bit about your company and the idea behind it.
Our vision is to be a globally respected hospitality brand that embodies the best of Indian service culture as a leading operator of properties with a presence across the Middle East, the Indian Sub-Continent and South East Asia. The accessible, understated experiences we offer resonate with our guests’ values and cater to their diverse interests. Our guests have travelled the world. They are smart users of technology, environmentally and socially conscious, they expect exceptional value. We aim to cater to the evolving demands of this segment for value added offerings in the upper upscale hospitality segment. We will achieve our vision by innovating fresh service, design, and operating concepts, creating smart, stimulating places in tune with our environmental and social values as well as delivering an intuitive hotel management model that resonates with the next generation of travelers.
Amruda has hotels and hospitality in her DNA. From her grandfather, the late Captain C.P. Krishnan Nair, founder of The Leela Group, she inherited a maverick streak and an eye for trailblazing business opportunities. An Economics graduate she went on to gain qualifications in Hospitality Management from CHN University in The Netherlands and a master’s degree from the world’s leading hotel school, Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration in New York, which included exposure to Asian markets through the Nanyang Business School, in Singapore.
After a stint with Mandarin Oriental New York, Amruda worked for Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels (JLLH). Based in Singapore she joined the firm as a full-time analyst on the hospitality brokerage team and was involved in investment sales mandates across the region including Indonesia, Japan, China, India and Thailand. In 2008, Amruda joined the corporate advisory division of JLLH where she acted as an owner’s representative managing three trading assets in Singapore and Shanghai, for properties operated by IHG, Fairmont and Starwood. She also conducted pre-opening budget reviews, management contract negotiations and mystery guest audits for properties in Bali, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Beijing.
Returning to India she served as head of Asset Management for Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts during a period of major growth, which included the opening of new properties in Gurgaon, Udaipur, Delhi and Chennai and an increase in room inventory under management to more than 2,200 guest rooms. In this role, Amruda was responsible for conducting financial reviews for the luxury group’s eight g properties, reviewing pre-opening budgets for upcoming projects and annual business plans.
As joint managing director and chief executive officer of Aiana, Amruda brings a global perspective and experience gained with leading international hospitality brands. She is responsible for designing the brand’s signature programming as well as spearheading the company’s overall business development to create a unique proposition that will define the next wave of smart hospitality.