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TOGETHER at Work, at Home

Clean India Journal spoke to a couples in the hospitality industry to understand how they complement each other with a demanding work life. As Raghu and Nandita Deora, who were previously in the hospitality industry together, put it, life of a hotelier is all about morning meetings, briefings, checklists and SOPs. “For my husband, who is a Chef, and me, our quest for work life balance is always at a “work in progress” stage. Even though we never really made “house rules”, to put balance into personal lives, we do talk about work when at home, sometimes on a need to know basis or just for another trusted perspective to an issue. As a housekeeper, it helped to understand, relate and support Chef’s long work hours and vice versa. This support eventually forms one of the most important aspects for an emotional connect. To be honest, for a Housekeeper who couldn’t even boil an egg correctly, marrying a Chef has been one of the best decisions.” Giving an elaborate account, Pamini Hemaprabha, Executive Housekeeper, Regional Rooms Specialist, Master Trainer at Emirates Palace, Abu Dabhi and Saravanan Alagappan, House Quality Manager, Nikki Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai, portray togetherness both in work life and home life.

Where and how did you both meet? Briefly, tell us the story that brought you together for life.

Pamini: During 2007, I was working as an Assistant Housekeeping Manager with Raffles Dubai and was looking to hire Public Area in charge and I came across Saravanan’s CV through my friend who happened to be Saravanan friend too. Sara was working with Hilton Abu Dhabi at that time and we approached him for an interview. He came across as very confident, friendly and charming person with full of life. He was instantly liked by my Executive Housekeeper and was given offer to work with us. Initially we didn’t get along well, as he was bit loud and was a difficult person to be taken into confidence. We shared Tom and Jerry relationship during the beginning of our careers. Since I was in charge of rooms operations it was a bit more difficult for us to have similar understanding as he was in Public Area and wasn’t reporting to me directly.

Dubai experienced recession during 2010-2011. We had to work with limited manpower and without an HOD. During this time, I was an HK manager and Saravanan was an Assistant HK Manager. We realised that we must work together from there onwards to have good operations. That was the time when we had no HOD and no more managers!

Our hard work and commitment earned us promotions and I grew to become Assistant Director of Housekeeping and he became HK Manager. We had by then become very good friends.

One fine day in April 2011, Saravanan met with an accident and was critical with a head injury. The news devastated me and I realised he was more than just a colleague. It was a tough night as I prayed and cried for his recovery. The first thing we did after Saravanan regained consciousness was to confess our feelings and then on it was a new beginning.

I then moved to Fairmont Heliopolis and Towers in Cairo, Egypt, as EHK and Saravanan continued to be in Raf fles Dubai. In 2012, we got married in Trichy, India.

Having better understanding, letting go of few needs, sacrificing your desires for family, constantly working hard to strike perfect balance between career and family, realising importance of spouse and children, taking regular breaks from work, indulging in planning occasions to be celebrated in style would be some of the tips that can bring the best balance.

– Pamini

How has the hospitality industry moulded your professional and personal life? Is being in the same profession a boon or bane? Why?

Pamini: It was a blessing in disguise to be hailing from the same industry. I am a very ambitious and career-oriented woman, and having Saravanan, who understood my professional life and continued to support me in my career without any hesitance, I owe my success to him largely. Being in the same profession helps us to avoid unnecessary questions like, where were you? How long does it take? Why your weekends aren’t consistent?

Saravanan: It is better to have a spouse who understands your work culture and supports it rather than doubting it. It is imperative to have a wife who understands and motivates the husband despite his complex shifts and inconsistent days off. Pamini is such a star in the hospitality industry and understands my work life with such effortlessness.

Have there been moments where either of you may have regretted the decision to be in the same profession or the need to be in dif ferent professions?

Pamini: Absolutely not. With both of us coming from a defence family, our backgrounds matched perfectly. Having him from the same profession gives a lot of peace of mind.

Soon after our daughter was born in 2013, I had to leave for Vienna, Austria for a week. I was feeling guilty of leaving my baby behind to pursue the master training course. However, Saravanan supported my decision and assured me of his presence along with my parents at that time. It is because of his stand and motivation then that I have become one of the few certified master trainers for housekeeping in the world. The same support earned me the title of “Best Housekeeper of the Year award in Dubai in 2014. I do travel frequently to places like, Doha, Myanmar, Rwanda, Abu Dhabi, etc. and all of that is well supported by my husband.

Saravanan: I too do not regret and instead would want to have Pamini Hemaprabha as a wife always or in any point in time or rebirths. I recollect the time, when Pamini was on maternity leave and I was busy with the hotel opening. I was never home for most of the time and had absolutely no proper days off. She sailed through the pregnancy and motherhood days without making me realise that I was not spending enough time with her or my daughter. Well, I am a successful hotelier today.

Most of my friends complain about their wives. It could probably be because of their career differences! Having a wife from the same career field has nurtured my professional and personal life beautifully.

Clean India Journal spoke to a couples in the hospitality industry to understand how they complement each other with a demanding work life. As Raghu and Nandita Deora, who were previously in the hospitality industry together, put it, life of a hotelier is all about morning meetings, briefings, checklists and SOPs. “For my husband, who is a Chef, and me, our quest for work life balance is always at a “work in progress” stage. Even though we never really made “house rules”, to put balance into personal lives, we do talk about work when at home, sometimes on…

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