Power List 2017, Dipak Haksar, Chief Executive, ITC Hotels & WelcomHotels
The first thing that strikes you on meeting Dipak Haksar is his genteel gestures and dignified demeanour. In an era where chief executives are often brusque, garrulous or unnecessarily exuberant, this comes as a welcome respite.
While these are his individualistic traits, part of it is also a rub-off effect of his long-standing association with the ITC Hotels; an organisation he has been allied with for over four decades. His journey with ITC began at the ITC Maurya in 1978. Soon after, he fortified himself with a GMP from Cornell Hotel School and has since then, held numerous positions in the company, managing both leisure and business hotels.
From ITC Maurya, Haksar moved to ITC Windsor, Bengaluru; a hotel he nurtured as resident manager, before moving to the ITC Rajputana in Jaipur as manager. This was followed by a stint as general manager at Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur.
In 2001, Haksar was entrusted with the launch of ITC Maratha, Mumbai – a hotel that won the ‘Best Luxury Business Hotel’ award in its very first year of operation. Incidentally, it was this very hotel that also earned Haksar the ‘Hotel & Food Service’ (H&FS) National Award for ‘Best General Manager’.
He later moved to New Delhi as VP, Operations for luxury hotels and general manager of ITC Maurya, the brand where his ITC journey had begun. In 2008, Haksar was appointed as COO of ITC Hotels and WelcomHotels, and in 2015, he was entrusted with the charge of chief executive.
At a time when sustainability was just a topic bandied around in corporate boardrooms, ITC Hotels laid down the foundation of ‘Responsible Luxury’. This philosophy forms the cornerstone of its policies and practices where luxury experiences delivered at its hotels avoid burdening the environment and instead try to create a positive impact on nature and the community-at-large.
Inspired by ITC’s triple bottom line philosophy of creating economic, environmental and social capital, his team at ITC Hotels is committed to delivering luxury experiences in a responsible manner, demonstrating environmental stewardship through eco-embedded products, eco-easy services and eco-sensitised associates. What’s more, the company’s associates follow the tenets of ‘Responsible Luxury’ not merely because they have to or to broadcast it, but because they genuinely believe in its merit. And their belief is a reflection of the faith that their chief executive has in the tenets of ‘Responsible Luxury’.
Innovation, guest orientation, globally benchmarked products and service excellence steeped in Indianness, based on the commitment to ‘Responsible Luxury’ form the keystones of ITC Hotel’s value proposition and Haksar’s perceptive business approach and diverse experience complement his contemporary management style in leading a team, which seamlessly delivers on the brand’s unique value propositions.
“We have more than 9000 rooms catering to different segments of the market mix in pursuit of our objective to offer comprehensive hospitality solutions. While our luxury brand ‘ITC Hotel’ will always be a key area of focus, we are in the process of consolidating our position in the upper upscale segment with the ‘WelcomHotel’ brand, through a mix of owned and managed properties,” said Haksar.
In addition to ITC Hotels and WelcomHotels, the hotel chain has The Fortune brand that hich caters to the upscale and mid-market segment, and the needs of leisure and heritage guests are met under the aegis of WelcomHeritage. A common thread runs through them – they all attempt to highlight the local traditions, cuisine and culture of the regions.
Haksar is a strong proponent of inclusive growth and a firm believer that all tourism industry stakeholders must align their goals towards a larger sustainable agenda. This is a belief that he champions as chairman of the CII National Tourism Council.
By Vinita Bhatia