Sukamal Mondal is a passionate hotelier who has worked extremely hard to get to where he is today. Originally from Calcutta, India, one day in his youth, he made the decision to take a risk and set off to mainland China. He eventually made his way into an international hotel brand – Marriott in China, and now after many years of pushing his limits and moving his way up the ladder, he is now the General Manager of a successful 5 star hotel in Bangkok – ‘The Oriental Residence Bangkok’
What was the most difficult thing for you when you were recognized as a young GM?
The most difficult part of being recognized as a young GM was that others were not willing to listen, as they felt that I did not have enough experience to make decisions. This is a common struggle amongst the younger generation, as they often face situations in which people listened more to managers who were older and with more experience.
Have you ever been given any advice that proved not to be true?
I had been advised to drive my team members with the assumption that they will unconditionally walk for me. However, I learnt that a better method is to drive people by motivating and empowering them to perform in their roles.
Are you a ‘Lobby GM’ or a Numbers GM?’ – And what is the importance of being a Lobby and / or a Numbers GM?
I am both, because I personally believe that you need the qualities of both to be a successful general manager. It is good to be a lobby GM because guests love it. For this reason, our managers-on-duty are required to be at the lobby every day, as guests feel more special when they are being greeted and accommodated by high management. However, it is also very important to be a numbers GM, because it is essentially the Number one priority for the business. If the numbers are good, then all is under control. No matter what your personal preference is, dealing with numbers is inevitable. However, I find that when you make guests happy, they come back, and this helps with the numbers. Therefore, both concepts go hand in hand with each other.
What was your darkest moment in your career?
My darkest moment was during the pre-opening of Shama Sukhumvit Bangkok. As it was my first time being a general manager, dealing with a pre-opening was already quite tough. However, what made this even more challenging was that the yellow / red-shirt political demonstration happened at exactly the same time as our event. It was a very difficult obstacle that I had to fight through.
If you could turn back time, what would be the one thing you would have changed in your career?
The way I dealt with people. In the past, I was very results-driven and did not focus on my team members. In time, I realized that people should be motivated and empowered when carrying out their tasks, and the results will come in. I believe that we should be tough on standards but soft on people.
What are the most common issues with the new generation hoteliers and the younger generation?
The new generation is very creative, and we are big dreamers. We can therefore sometimes lose focus of cost control. The important thing is to find a balance – we can still be big dreamers and make our dreams come true, whilst being cost-conscious with good planning.