Vibrant and full of life, the independent consultant and Director of Hospitality Consultancy Services at Swiss Institute is embarking on a new chapter in her life.
As a fitness enthusiast, her mantra is that, in order to fulfil her many roles as a career woman, mother, wife and daughter, she needs to be, first and foremost, strong and healthy. Inspiring at every turn, Renusha dishes on her incredible work ethic and what fuels her to achieve bigger and better.
Q/ How did you get your start in hospitality and public relations?
A/ Hospitality has always been my passion. After pursuing a Tourism and Hospitality degree in Melbourne, Australia, I opted to complete my final semester in Washington, USA as part of an exchange student program. On completion of my semester, I had the good fortune to be selected by Starwood Hotels to join the chain’s management trainee program. So, I moved to San Diego to the Sheraton Hotel and Marina, a 1048-room convention hotel, where I worked with a great team and some very inspirational leaders, who groomed me and provided me with all the tools required to explore different aspects of the industry. It really helped me to find my niche.
Q/ Tell me about your new role at Swiss Institute…
A/ My current position is very different to the work I did at Aitken Spence Hotels. My previous role centred around PR, communications and promotions. But, my new role is more consultancy based, where I work with different hotels, focusing on their training and development initiatives, pre-opening operations and service culture. Within a larger framework, I will be looking into the restructuring of Swiss Institute’s existing hospitality operation, which may include forays into branding, marketing, sales and development growth. In addition, I’m particularly excited to work on customer service enhancement, which I feel is lacking in Sri Lanka, and as a result, presents itself as an exciting challenge.
Q/ What you do is no easy task. How do you ensure all aspects of work are taken care of?
A/ Throughout my career, I’ve been extremely fortunate to have always worked with very strong teams. This has allowed me to delegate work wherever possible and take on more strategic roles. I love what I do and I am extremely passionate about this industry. The multitude of responsibilities in my role also ensures that I am never really bored with work!
Q/ What does your typical work day look like?
A/ I’m usually up at 4.30 AM and ready to work out by 5 AM. After an hour-long workout, I come home to spend time with my son before heading off to work. The rest of the day consists of meetings with the internal team and external stakeholders, and catching up with the day-to-day operational aspects of my role. Once my work day is done, my husband and I pick our son up from my mom’s for family time at home; it’s something we all look forward to! Once my son is in bed, my husband and I read or watch a movie and usually go to sleep early.
Q/ What do you do to stay healthy and fit?
A/ For me, staying fit is a way of life. I’m grateful to be part of the TASS fitness community led by Thanura Abeywardena, where I’m challenged on a daily basis to break through fitness barriers. My workout consists of daily outdoor sessions, which include agility and cardio training, and twice-a-week gym sessions, where I work on strengthening and toning, focusing primarily on my arms and legs.
Q/ How do you effectively balance your work and personal lives?
A/ It often gets a bit hectic, but it’s important to stay focused and prioritise. My family comes first, and I believe that in order for me to be the best wife, mom and daughter possible, I need to be happy. My work is the other part of my life that keeps me ticking and I recognise that both these aspects need to work in tandem with each other in order for me to have a well-rounded life. It’s definitely a balancing act, and one which I couldn’t do without the support extended by my mom every day. Aitken Spence Hotels also provided me with a lot of support to get through the first two years of being a mother, for which I will always be grateful.
I think, sometimes, we let others place unnecessary pressure on ourselves. I’m happy that I’m now at a place in life where I only commit to what I want to undertake. At the end of the day, this policy makes my life so much simpler.
Q/ What are your weekends like?
A/ Weekends are when I get to unwind and relax! Since my husband and I prefer having early nights during the week, we usually plan to meet up with friends, either on Friday or Saturday nights for dinner and drinks or for Sunday brunch. Every Saturday, my son and I have breakfast with my mom and then he accompanies me on any errands that I have to run. During the evenings we normally set up playdates to keep him occupied. We love travelling and plan weekend getaways at least once a month.
Q/ What’s one big change that’s recently happened in your life?
A/ I’m presently in the transition phase of moving from a full-time, corporate job to one which is more consultancy-based, and I am very excited about the new prospects. After sixteen years in a corporate environment, this will definitely be a change!
Q/ Do you have any advice for those who want a career in hospitality?
A/ Hospitality, to me, is a fascinating industry with tremendous potential, but it’s not all glitz and glamour, as it’s often made out to be. It is a lot of hard work and you need to be truly passionate about what you do in order to be successful. The intangible rewards you get in the form of a repeat guest booking or from a guest thanking you for making their holiday special is definitely priceless, and what encourages me to keep moving forward.
IN A FEW WORDS
Guilty pleasure: Mango sticky rice
Most worn accessory: I love my rings.
Favourite travel destination: Down south, locally, and Morocco, internationally.
Hardest thing about being a mum: I’ve learnt to love and treasure every aspect, because kids grow up too soon!
Other than my wallet and phone, I never leave home without: My keys.
Go-to outfit when in a pinch: It depends on the occasion, but a dress would be my first choice.
Favourite local designer: Taali for casualwear and Radisi for formal occasions.
My make-up essential: Lipstick.
I’m currently reading: The Island by Victoria Hislop.
This article was originally published as ‘How I Did It’ in the July 2017 issue of Cosmopolitan Sri Lanka. For more career advice, grab a copy of our latest magazine.
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