Stupendous Six! Six woman frontrunners of India travel!
Six in itself is a perfect number, so say the Pythogreans. In keeping with the sentiment, TravelScapes in its quest for some of the finest professionals in India Travel, takes you on a journey with six first ladies of travel in India. After all there are six ‘perfect pitches’ in a “maiden” over!
TS GURPREET K. SEKHON
We start the story with a disclaimer. While we celebrate six woman professionals and their journeys through the years in the dynamic Indian travel scenario; as we explore the qualities they bring to the table as women, the challenges that the profession brings with it and their advice to women professionals in the industry, we do not –neither do they– perceive them as inferior or superior to men, they are simply professionals in a level playing field and boy! Do they play well!
Here are the stupendous six, in no particular order.
Managing Director, Outbound Marketing
WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE
How does one capture a live wire,− a highly charged beam of energy − on paper, in monochromatic hues? The task is challenging as one sets out to profile a woman as dynamic as Vasudha Sondhi, Managing Director, Outbound Marketing.
Even before she speaks, her eyes communicated an animated energy as her smile gives you a glimpse into the woman who is joie d’ vivre personified, not unlike the portrait of a Cuban woman by Ashish Chawla, that hangs on her wall. Behind her is a painting in tea stain by artist Bipasha Gupta −a deconstructed Durga, which is in keeping with her artistic side and a reminder of the unique village hide-out where she mentors art and artists.
However as Vasudha starts to speak, all that comes through is a true professional, with clear goals and a clearer strategy. As one travels with her through her story and that of Outbound Marketing, one cannot but be impressed and then dawns the realisation as to why is she so deserving of her reputation as one of India’s finest Travel Professionals.
Her writer mother and physicist father were not too approving of her career in hospitality when she informed them that she had passed her hotel management entrance. She smiles as she recalls how they had ensured that she got a degree in Public Administration in addition to her four-year diploma.
Campus placements got her offers from with both the Taj and ITC management programmes, where she chose the former. After a couple of years in F&B production and another three to four in F&B Service, she shifted to sales owing to the birth of her son and subsequently took a year’s sabbatical.
Even though she had risen to the position of Associate Director of Sales, before she took a break, on return she faced an industry, which was not too accepting of a young mother.As opportunities in hotels were not coming her way, she took up a job in a small travel outfit. PATA 1992, brought with it a wonderful opportunity and a chance to work in SITA World Travels, under the legendary Inder Sharma.
“What a personality!,” exclaims Vasudha, “I learnt so much from him!” She goes on to say, “ When you are with sales of an Indian hotel chain, your exposure is very limited. Working in SITA, I got a lot of exposure as I was doing international business development.” After having worked extensively in the company, Vasudha got the opportunity to work with the Meridian Group, a part of the UK based, Forte Hospitality Group at the time. The company wanted to set base in India and appointed Vasudha as the head of the Meridian team from a Sales & Marketing perspective. She subsequently a part of the New Hotel Opening team and went on to launch five Meridian properties in India.
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