Harish Chandra, General Manager – IT, Sarovar Hotels Pvt Ltd, opens up about how he has always played the odds and the lessons he’s learnt along the way. By Shweta Gandhi
Harish Chandra started his career in 1993 at The Landmark Hotel in Kanpur. He had just graduated from a Hotel Management and Catering Technology course after having done his BSc and post-graduate diploma in travel and tourism management. His journey began from hotel management where he learnt the basics of IT to a short stint in aviation with Air Sahara, he got an opportunity to practically function a basic IT operation, to GM – IT (CIO) at Sarovar Hotels has been an eventful one.
At Sarovar, Harish is responsible for formulating and implementing IT strategies, technology solutions, information management initiatives and policies to support the company’s business requirements. For his contribution, he was recently recognised as a Travel and Hospitality Icon at CIO Power List 2016. Here, Harish breaks down his life’s learnings for us.
- Money will follow you
“When I started out, I was only getting Rs 2,060 in hand, and I was strenuously working. That was 23 years ago. Today, I’m looked at as one of the most successful from my hotel management batch. There was a point in time when I stopped taking any support from my parents. I knew I wanted to do something different, no matter the income, and even though it wasn’t there for the first four years of my career, money followed me in my later years. So if you have faith in yourself and are passionate about what you do, the money will come. Trust yourself.”
2. Believe in your dreams
“My first breakthrough in an international hotel software company was a real dream come true. I used to frequently visit Mumbai and other metros from Lucknow and Varanasi and scour for jobs. I came across an advertisement for an international company looking for candidates who had completed hotel management and had knowledge of basic IT. That was my precise profile! I always kept my target in mind and had a positive outlook about what I wanted to achieve. I never let anything or anyone detract me from my purpose. And I was right in doing so, for I got that job and it changed my life! I got to travel to many countries in Middle East from Dubai where I lived for three years. I used to stay in five-star hotels for a stretch of 21 days where I used to work on hotel management software installation, configuration, training and end-user support and I truly enjoyed travelling as a bachelor.”
3. Remove fear from your mind
“I have come across a lot of intelligent, hard working and sincere professionals, but I have never compared myself with them. I never let any fear, especially of competition, enter my mind. I was always daring and taking risks—I pushed myself to go and try at least. Even if I failed in an interview, it didn’t bother me because I had tried my level best. I saw so many of my colleagues taking advice from their parents, and I always felt that by following their parents’ approval, they never explored their potential up to some level and who they truly could be. I used to take all my decisions on my own, sans fear. When you stop worrying, you actually start achieving.”
4. Your expertise is more valuable than your qualifications
“I know what I have achieved is in terms of my expertise and industrial knowledge. What I am earning is according to my varied experience in different streams (hotel software, telecom, hotel operations knowledge, corporate hotel experience). I am not an IIM graduate, neither have I done my MBA like many other CIOs who have a deep knowledge of their vertical. It is all my know-how of the hospitality industry and business operations that has helped me grow in my career ladder. And I would advise early-year professionals to not let their educational qualifications hold them back from achieving what they truly desire. All you require is passion and zeal to take calculated or uncalculated risks in your career.”
5. Maintain a work-life balance
“After so many years of working and finally achieving my personal goals, this is one area where I’m falling short. I spend three hours commuting to work, and this holds me back from spending quality time with my wife and children. I am not able to see what my 10-year-old is studying in school—work and travel keeps me that busy! Even though I start my day with a 40-minute long walk and some basic yoga, I would be more than happy if I can manage to devote more time to my family, and if I could have one wish granted to me, I would want extra time out of my limited 24 hours for my family.”