With a wide portfolio ranging from hotels, serviced apartments, lifestyle membership club, convention centres, industrial and outdoor catering, Brigade Hospitality is on a roll. The lady who has played a pivotal role in the business since 2009, when she joined the family business, is Nirupa Shankar, Director, Brigade Hospitality, a Masters from Cornell University’s Hotel Management School.
New projects give her an adrenaline rush. Says Shankar, “It is only when you build a project from scratch and add tremendous value to bare land, that you can feel a sense of achievement.”
She is modest to brush aside all praise and says, “It has been a team effort. I work very closely with Vineet Verma. We currently have five operating hotels and manage five lifestyle membership clubs, two convention centers and cater 12,500 meals a day under our catering division. We have managed serviced apartments under our Brigade Homestead brand. However, the most important measure of success for us is when our people grow along with our business.”
Always keen to keep pace with a rapidly changing industry and innovate, Shankar reveals, “Today’s environment is fast-paced and changing mainly due to technological advances. I founded the Brigade Real Estate Accelerator Program (REAP) in order to stay abreast of technological changes and to adopt technology in order to enhance operating efficiency.”
She believes in taking calculated risks and feels hospitality, as a segment is probably the riskiest amongst all asset classes in real estate. She further elaborates, “However, the catering business under the brand of Celebrations is probably a very risky one because it is a high-volume, low-margin business and if costs are not kept under tight control, it can get unprofitable very quickly. In about three to four years, we have ramped up the business and cater to many office parks. Even if 99% of your customers are happy and 1% is not, it means 125 customers a day are not happy. But that is the nature of a high-volume business.”
Keen to expand she declares, “We are working towards growing our portfolio in a cautious and sensible manner. Our focus is on smart business hotels in tier-1 markets. We have seven hotels under various stages of construction. By 2021, we will have 2,000 key.”
Passionate about her work, Shankar believes in leading through example, yet values work-life balance. She explains, “Post-motherhood, I have had to re-prioritise how I spend my time. be it on work, family, health, friends or sleep. I truly believe that
before we can look after our family and work. or follow through on all other responsibilities, it is of vital importance to look after ourselves. A healthy body and a healthy mind go hand-in-hand. Exercising and eating right makes one more alert.”