Hospitality

Rakesh Sarna: Seeking to turn Taj around

FEATURE

Rakesh Sarna describes Tata Group chairman Cyrus Mistry as a “man of few words”. When they met in Bombay House to discuss the prospect of Sarna taking charge of the group’s hotel business, those few words were enough for this hotel industry veteran. But it wasn’t an easy decision, not before he took it, not after he took it. In his first media interview since taking over as managing director and CEO of Indian Hotels, Sarna talks about “stepping out of his comfort zone”. There he was settled in Chicago, 57 years of age, his entire working life of 35 years spent in one company, Hyatt Hotels, where he had risen to manage its portfolio of 383 properties across the Americas. His two daughters from his first marriage were in the US.

Life was good with his second wife and “four-legged son” (a golden retriever). And here was Mistry, asking him to move back to a country in which he had only shuttled in and out, and worked for all of seven months in his 35-year career (though he did oversee Indian operations for seven years). Here was Mistry asking him to bring his considerable knowledge, and experience in this business to revive a name that was once the marker in the Indian hotel industry but had, in recent years, captive of its own weight. For the last 11 years, under Sarna’s predecessor, Raymond Bickson, Indian Hotels had embarked on a buying and building spree.

Full report here Economic Times

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