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Beyond Hospitality: Careers in housekeeping

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In a recent virtual discussion organised by i-Professional Housekeepers’ Association (IPHA) and Clean India Journal, stalwarts of the housekeeping industry spoke to students and young professionals about the transition from hospitality housekeeping to facility management, how housekeepers can and do assume responsibilities very distinct from housekeeping, and how the curriculum needs to adapt to facilitate this change. Moderated by Mohana M, Editor, Clean India Journal, excerpts from this conversation offer a glimpse into the future of the housekeeper’s role.

Reenaa V Tiwarri, Head-Administration, Artemis Hospital, Gurgaon:

While all housekeepers learn their basic skills from working in hospitality, housekeeping is no longer limited to hotels. Many professionals have branched into airlines, airports, retail etc. The effect of the pandemic on the hospitality sector has also taught people to look beyond hotels.

Fiscal management should be a part of the course; we have to manage within the given budget. By learning risk assessment, we can put in checks and balances to mitigate risk.

Sonia Mital, General Manager-Housekeeping, INOX Leisure Ltd:

Coming from the hospitality space, I didn’t know what I was getting into when I joined the multiplex industry. In hotels, we had a standard set of roles; here, it is very dynamic. Not only do I work with housekeeping, but I also collaborate with marketing, uniform design, compliance, MIS etc, and am in charge of procurement.

Our surveys have shown that housekeeping placements will rise by 12% in the coming years. We need a total revamp of what we learn in colleges, with months of industrial and management training as part of the course.

Rupal Sinha, CEO-IFMS, Quess Corp:

From the time facility managers were recognised only as housekeepers, the market has matured in its understanding. FM professionals also need to understand domains like budgeting and work with newer stakeholders like insurance.

Housekeepers must build expertise to be treated not as an overhead department, but as a profit center in an organisation. We have put managers who have risen through ranks into six sigma, health and safety, brand management etc. We are training our frontliners in the healthcare sector as first-responders.

Vaishali Sinha, Director-Housekeeping, Meluha The Fern:

Until a few years ago, only one out of every hundred hospitality management students would want to be a housekeeper. This is no longer the case. GenNext understands that there are various segments where it can grow; there are entirely new positions like hygiene manager, which didn’t exist earlier.

If students are rotated through all sub-departments of housekeeping, they will realise that it is not just a sweeping-mopping job.

Saji Sebastian, Vice President, Corporate Services, Network18:

 I can do what I do because I started out in housekeeping; this is where I was groomed. My training enabled me to move from startups to hospitals to airports to a media house. We are wanted everywhere.

Housekeeping will become a specialised function under FM. We need to make it more scientific and technical-oriented, and go beyond hygiene and cleanliness to understand management as well. For this, we need to understand a building as an entity, and all its functions.

Pancham Narkar, GM-Housekeeping, Jio World Center:

From planning and designing to construction, customer relations and client management, we are consulted about everything. We are adding value with our services.

We seniors need to tell students about what all is available, so that they can come see what we do and one day step into our shoes.

Subhadip Hore, AGM & SME Soft Services, Pan India:

When I moved from hotels to FM, I started being a part of sales, marketing and innovation. We are no longer limited to rooms or public areas, and are now being given the respect of subject matter experts in centers of excellence.

Learning about compliance will help us work in industries. We need to know how to analyse data and decide outcomes accordingly.

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