Power List 2017, Neeraj Govil, Area VP, South Asia, Marriott International
Neeraj Govil, currently area VP South Asia for Marriott International took over the reins of the operations when Rajeev Menon was promoted as chief operating officer for APEC (Asia Pacific, excluding China). As one of the most respected hotel professionals, Menon left behind a legacy that was both vast and challenging given its size and diaspora.
Not surprisingly, expectations were sky high when Neeraj Govil, who was then GM of Shanghai Marriott Hotel City Centre, was promoted as Marriott International’s market VP for India in September 2015. But barely one year into the assignment, there was a tectonic shift when Marriott acquired Starwood to become the world’s biggest hospitality chain in effect becoming India’s largest hotel operator dislodging Taj. Post the successful acquisition of Starwood in September last year, Marriott International put a new leadership structure in place for its South Asia operations, giving larger responsibility to Govil and appointing him as the area vice-president, South Asia.
In a little less than one year since he took over his new role, Govil has proven his mettle, establishing himself as a professional who is extremely well respected not only by his associates but also by his external stakeholders – the owner fraternity and his industry counterparts (not so easy given the tough competitive environment).
He always comes across as an individual who is well grounded, cultured, humble and approachable – qualities that make for an excellent leader! The size and scale of the mammoth operations brings with it humungous challenges, but Govil’s temperament rarely sees him ruffled or fazed.
According to his immediate team, Govil ‘walks the talk’, is decisive and is an individual who encourages his senior think tank to plan ahead of contingency situations. At the helm of 95 hotels in 24 cities across five countries, being on top of your game can make all the difference between success and failure. A conglomeration of two huge companies requires managing serious challenges and complexities around people, processes, culture differences and stakeholder management. And listening to feedback from his team, peers and seniors, Govil has done an extremely formidable job seamlessly bringing together the two organisations with a laser-sharp and strategic approach. By all accounts, Marriott International is bullish on India. Present through 15 brands in South Asia, the company, under Govil’s leadership, is poised for dramatic growth with over 80 hotels in the pipeline.
Govil’s career with Marriott International started as a restaurant manager at the Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel in 2001. As a young professional he exhibited tremendous potential for hard work and never shied away from taking on assignments that challenged him. Today, he finds himself at the ‘top of the heap’ because of his drive, dedication and the opportunities that he took on during his career to prove his mettle. “Marriott as an organization will provide huge opportunities to grow your career and I am a great example of that,” he quips.
Having said that, Govil is quick to add that the one thing he tells all associates is that it is not necessary to just accelerate upwards for growth. “I believe change is the only constant, as long as you are learning new skills, delivering on new goals and enhancing your growth, a move whether lateral or upwards is not important. Success is never dependent on that factor alone,” he explains. Ask him about his goal and he replies: “We have abundant talent and it is my mission to grow not just operational excellence but a legacy of leaders. I want to be able to look back and contribute to making Marriott the best hospitality company with the best-in-class portfolio of hotels and brands.” With this thought, clearly Govil, who will settle for nothing but the best, is a man with a mission.
By Shafquat Ali