Kochi-based entrepreneur learns art of hospitality with her startup venture
Shruti Shibulal, CEO and director of Tamara Leisure Experiences talks about her journey into India’s dynamic hospitality Industry.
Published: 01st February 2020 02:58 AM | Last Updated: 01st February 2020 02:58 AM | A+A A-
KOCHI: Shruti Shibulal is a master of many trades. She studies science, started her career as a chemist, but later realised that she would enjoy a job that involved more connection with people. She moved on to work with Merrill Lynch in New York in finance, before moving on to the hospitality industry; but managed to love and learn from every environment she has been a part of.
Tamara Leisure Experiences, her hospitality venture that launched its flagship property in Coorg in 2012—the same year she graduated from Columbia Business School school—now has around seven functional properties worldwide, with four more in the pipeline—The Tamara Kodai, Lilac Hotel Jayanagar 3rd Block, Lilac Hotel Jayanagar 5th Block, and O by Tamara are based in India, while Holiday Inn Express in Guetersloh, Prizeotel in Hannover and Courtyard by Marriott in Wolfsburg operate in Germany.
Shruti (35) who shuttled between USA and India most of her life, moved to her home turf in 2015, taking over as CEO in May of 2018. Daughter of Infosys Co-founder SD Shibulal, the entrepreneurship is very much in Shruti’s blood. But being one of the youngest CEO’s in India’s ever-changing hospitality industry is not an easy job. Starting with just 30 rooms in 2012, she aims to expand to 1000 rooms by 2025.
Before joining Tamara, I worked with Avant Grade Hospitality, which was my first proper experience with the industry. There, I learnt about every single aspect of the business—finance and design to operations and this came handy when I had to run things on my own,” she says.Tamara has also announced the launch of its flagship property in Thiruvananthapuram under category O by Tamara.
The luxury business facility comes with a 10,000-sqft convention centre, a business centre comprising a lounge and a board room with a seating capacity of 12 persons, 152 rooms. "I have always wanted to make Tamara a sustainable brand—both in terms of resources and revenue. I don’t believe in creating opportunities and plugging them in the market. Instead, you need to observe where there is a deficit and then expand accordingly.
The same success formula doesn’t work everywhere," she says. The group is also planning to launch a top luxury Ayurveda retreat in Alappuzha this year, apart from three budget hotels planned in Kannur, Guruvayur and Kumbhakonam.
"Our leisure properties are all made very close to nature," she says. Shruti also ensures, from a structural level, that her properties are eco-friendly too. "Everything from the type of glass, to the covers for our vanity kits, are designed to reduce waste and redistribute energy smartly," she adds.
When asked about being a woman entrepreneur in India’s socio-economic set-up, she says, "We see plenty of women enrolling for education and passing out with good grades. But when it comes to work, especially in the hospitality industry, most of them drop out. Family and society have put too many guidelines to pressure an independent woman. I think the only way to tackle this situation, is for men and women in the management to start speaking to employees and their families. We need more female role models for our daughters," she says.