Vaibhav Garg who worked as the Area Talent & Culture Manager for Accor Hotels properties in Maldives, currently works as the Chief Business Excellence Officer (CBEO) at Office of the CEO in Raisecrown Group Maldives. He is also an Advisory Board Member at Cornell Institute of Healthy Futures (CIHF) in USA, Ithaca, New York.
He connects with students, faculty members and top-level professionals from various industries. The main areas he focusses on includes exchanging information, bridging the fields of hospitality, design thinking, health management, policy to advance service excellence in healthcare, wellness, senior living, and related areas at the Cornell Institute of Healthy Futures (CIHF).
Vaibhav Garg started working in Maldives in 2010 in the area of HR, L&D and Hotel operations and held the Talent & Culture role for Accor Hotels properties in Maldives since 2016. His job was to find local talent, guide HR teams, and to create and maintain company culture at their various resorts.
He mentioned the unique qualities he’s noticed in his Maldivian colleagues when he was working in Maldives. In his own words:
There’s a unique way in which Maldivian colleagues work, and it comes naturally. The service, culture, the smile of the Maldivians are most talked about on the guest comments for any resorts. I think one thing that stands out very naturally is that guests love the Maldivian warmth.
People may not be qualified or they may not have a Ph.D. or they may not have gone to a hospitality school, but the young boys and girls there have learned the trait of service so naturally. That’s what the guest wants and need, a service from the heart.
Vaibhav also discussed the various career opportunities available for Maldivians working at Accor Hotels properties.
Mercure was the first Accor project opened in 2016. And now, they have 6 properties. So when we hired people for Mercure, they could also see that their careers with us would grow, it may be with Mercure, or with Pullman, or with Fairmont. We also encouraged people to ensure mobility within these properties, not only these properties, they could work in any Accor properties. When an employee joins, they became part of the big family. Accor is a very employee friendly organization and they had policies that make sure that employees journey, which we call ‘talent journey’ is well taken care of.
It’s not that you hire someone just for the sake of it. We focus a lot on employer branding and then we focus on recruitment, selection, onboarding and then there are compensate and will benefit us. We also did take care of their work-life balance, their learning needs that go through their career progression and then, of course, there’s a whole cycle where the employee can see himself through. Along with good success stories an employee gets motivated, they would say, if good things are happening to our colleagues, maybe one day it will happen to me too. So it depends on their passion, it depends on what they want to do with this opportunity and how bad they want it.
How do you locate local talent and how do you go about giving them the opportunity to build a career in hospitality?
We are tied up with the United Nations Development Program, and under that commitment, they were in touch with the local schools. Specifically for this property, we had a good contact with Maamendhoo school and for 2 years they were working very closely with the school to provide them with vocational training opportunities at the resort.
They had introduced an 8-month program, where everybody is welcomed. There are no strict selection criteria, if you want to see yourself working in a hotel industry within a span of one year, there is a program. The program is basically for young boys and girls who could come, work and learn for a duration of 8 months. During these 8 months, they will be working for 2 months at each department.
After the completion of this 8-month program, if there was an available position in the department where the trainee wanted to work, they can move from being a vocational trainee to a full-time employee.
Vaibhav shared some of the success stories he is very proud of at Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort.
We have been very successful with some students, you would probably have seen Maya and Nuha working at the front desk. We took them onboard in 2016 as trainees, and today they are working as full-time employees, they are doing very well for themselves. And the 2 young ladies have been brand ambassadors for who they are, and they have broken the stereotypes, in terms of “girls can’t work”. Being that, you only need qualified people to work in the hospitality industry. So, those kinds of people have different perceptions about the industry, especially when it comes to hospitality. Most people think it’s not safe for the ladies. So when they go back to their homes, and their islands, people look up to them, young boys and girls get inspired. They would proudly say that their sister is working in this hotel and she is getting a lot of recognition when her name is coming up on TripAdvisor and so on. So that plays a huge role in impacting the lives of others. After we hired Maya & Nuha, we had several young girls who approached us for Kids club attendant, F&B attendant, somebody wanted to come and work as a Shop attendant, so we gave that opportunity to them and I feel extremely proud.