Most of us grow up thinking of a leader as a man in a suit. But increasingly women are changing these perceptions by breaking new ground in every industry. Sonavi Chopra Kaicker, the Chief Executive Officer of Neemrana Hotels is on. A Rhodes Scholar, a former golf champion and the only Indian woman to own an Oxford Half Blue, Kaicker is managing 18 historical properties.
In a period of such high uncertainty for the travel business, how will 2021 determine the future of travel? SheThePeople catches up with the trends.
Q. What will change for travel in 2021?
Drivable destinations and staycations are here to stay. Nature will win. Hotels with plenty of outdoor spaces, natural ventilation, and recreational activities will be preferred. Hotels that are located in the mountains, by the riverside, and the beach will do better than over-crowded destinations.
Intimate, destination weddings will continue to be in vogue in 2021 instead of big fat Indian weddings. Business travel will be restricted and as the last few months have seen virtual meetings will continue be the new norm. Conference business too will remain negligible in the first few months of 2021 and will gain momentum gradually.
Destination weddings will continue to be in vogue in 2021 instead of big fat Indian weddings. Business travel will be restricted – Sonavi Chopra Kaicker
Q. Have you ever experienced insubordination or discrimination at your workplace owing to your gender?
If one is well born in India and then well educated – with a very strong foundation thorough schooling at Modern School, Barakhamba Road, further studies at Lady Shriram College and international exposure as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford – I think I do not represent an average Indian lady, if I may say very candidly. I am blessed to have a very supportive spouse and parents in law who are my backbone and care for our two daughters as much as I do, if not more.
There are different kinds of organisations. And I worked in a very civilised and work-friendly environment in my first job at Sarovar Hotels, where competence and discipline was inducted into me and then valued. To be protected under a large banyan tree keeps the storms and glances away. The same continued in Neemrana Hotels. I have never felt discriminated against as a lady, but I have certainly felt very privileged !
Q. A common assumption is that motherhood dilutes a woman’s profession. It is often asked how a woman CEO manages her household and office. Do you think it’s high time the same question is posed to male CEO’s?
You can pose the questions but the male CEOs may not have to balance the same aspects in an Indian joint family setup as the expectations are different. So a lady has to meander between the smooth pebbles and the angular rocks and juggle multiple roles and responsibilities at the home and workplace.
They will eventually have to round off their edges. But there are several men that take on the responsibility of their home and family willingly with an equal sense of ownership and pride.
But as one urban lady speaking to another, let’s not be vain enough to fill the whole gender space for our sex. If you travel to any village – whether it is Haryana, Rajasthan or Uttarakhand, around us many rural women can teach us many things about multitasking, often under trying situations and hardships.
Q.Do you think sexism and locker room talk exists inside the corporate system?
It must in some organisations, but if a lady is well-oriented towards work ethics, efficiency, targets, a packed clockwork, and has a kind and humane approach towards her co-workers, one can only be respected.
Q.What is your advice to someone who is not a man who wants to make it into the corporate world?
Try to be the best version of yourself – don’t compare your journey with the journey of others.
Q.There a huge gap in salaries when it comes to women CEOs. As per Forbes, a female CEO is 45% more likely to be fired than a male CEO? What do you think about this?
I think that this is both tragic and a great shame. It is positively medieval to harbour notions of gender inequalities at the workplace or any other sphere of life. Personally, as a former student of Psychology, I think it has a lot to do with different perceptions and expectations across different fields.
At Neemrana, we have always been welcoming to people of all genders, races, orientations, ethnicity, and religions and will continue to remain so. These are our core values.
Q. How important is it for women leaders to speak up about workplace discrimination?
It is a must to speak up if there is a genuine reason to– an absolute precursor to a revolutionary and necessary change.
7.What would be the three qualities do you think make a notable leader?
Listening with the patience of the sea, observing carefully with an eye for solutions, and acting with the 18 arms of a Devi.
Q.How can we ensure that women’s presence increases in male dominated corporate sectors?
Simply by hiring more women and bridging the gender gap !
9.How can we liberate the idea of leadership from gendered notions?
This can only be done by leading by example – by demonstrating discipline, exceptional work and not being coy when the pulpit or medal is our equal right !