How did I get where I am today?

Through the journey called “Life”, I often ponder about my career path and the interesting lessons I learnt on the way. Though I appreciate we all have our story, I would like to share some insights into my journey, hoping that you might be able to take away something that can help you in your current or future career.

I started my career over two decades ago in Mumbai, India, with the Taj Group of Hotels. I was part of the Front of House, Graduate Trainees’ team. This is where I got the first flavour of 5 Star Customer Service. Since then I have had the opportunity to work with a number of multinational organisations in India, UAE and later in the UK.

Though I have worked in various customer centric roles they were mainly in FOH positions. What I would like to share with you is not the intricate details of the jobs I did but moreover the principles that helped me move up the career ladder and get me to where I am today. This is what has helped me move up from a simple receptionist to my current National FOH Manager role, overlooking over 40 corporate sites from London to Scotland.

Firstly, irrespective of whatever work I have done in life, I have always endeavored to carry out that role to the best of my ability and with passion. Whether you are a frontline employee or a back-end operative, when you sincerely treat your job as if it were your own business, you are on the winning track. This is the complete opposite of the “It’s not my job” or “I’m not paid enough to do that” mentality. Such thinking only ensures that years later you are still there mourning and complaining that the company hasn’t given a sufficient increment.

Secondly, as a receptionist I never limited my contribution to the job description performing only what was expected of me, as that would just make me a “good receptionist”. This is the segment where a lot of hard working and sincere employees exist. Supervisors and Managers love such employees as they run the show with sincerity and professionalism. There is nothing wrong in spending a large part of your career in a receptionist’s position, but if you wish to progress and want a better pay cheque at the end of the month, you need to look beyond the reception desk.

You must be prepared to accept setbacks, which is really hard when you have invested a lot of hard work. In my journey, twice I covered the FOH Manger’s role for almost a year for free, but when the role finally came out, it was given to a fresh external candidate that I had to train up. This can be extremely frustrating but you still need to keep going and one day your moment will arrive. Mine did arrive too and interestingly in both cases it was far better than the roles I was so desperately hoping to get.

Moving from front line customer service roles into management was another important milestone and that was actually the result of not only working hard and waiting for a promotion but actually going out there and getting it. This means moving way out your comfort zone and, in some cases, taking a bit of a risk too. Once you get into management the challenge gets even tougher, as you then have to deal with an inevitable share of corporate politics. This is where your “people skills” come into play. You have to develop your ability to communicate effectively at different levels. Your “Emotional Intelligence” may often prove way more effective that your “Cognitive Capabilities”. Some people may naturally possess such skills while others need to cultivate them but it is surely worth the efforts.

Other pointers to ponder on…

Your self-confidence is crucial. Know your worth and do not shy away from giving yourself the due credit. It is a pity to see so many capable employees selling themselves short in interviews.

Positive thinking plays a big role in your success. You cannot be successful, when you constantly are looking for what could go wrong.

Risk taking. You will rarely find a highly successful person that tip-topped their way to the top. If you want to win you have to take some chances and “Yes”, you will fail some times. Be prepared to get bruised.

Constantly upgrading yourself. Apple and Samsung phones continue to be successful as they relaunch their phones every year with a few new features. If they stopped doing this they would fade away into the dark. Work towards upgrading yourself and presenting the world with a better version of yourself with passing time.

Think big! If you are a receptionist think like a supervisor, if you are a supervisor, think like a manger. Thinking like your line manager will make you one someday.

There is a lot more that I would have loved to share with you but it is beyond the scope of this article, so I would like to leave you with a final thought.

“If there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel, go light it yourself”.

FSandip – National Corporate FOH Manager

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