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Focussed On Learning: Sameer Seth, Hunger Inc. Hospitality

With a workforce strength of 165 plus, the group has emerged as a unique hospitality player that offers selective edibles

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Hunger Inc. Hospitality’s journey began with The Bombay Canteen, a café and bar that is Indian at heart. Located in the bustling metropolis of Bombay, it prides itself on recreating local dishes and reinterpreting age-old Indian traditions, to create an experience that toasts old times and celebrates the new age too. The kitchen presents the classic, yet unexplored charm of India’s diverse regions, marrying them expertly with familiar flavours. And the bar, which is a great place to hang out at The Bombay Canteen, has a unique selection of re-imagined classic cocktails with firm Indian roots. With a workforce strength of 165 plus, the group has emerged as a unique hospitality player that offers selective edibles.

On the organisation’s value
The heart of our organisation is centred on hospitality. However, we believe in hospitality first to our team and then to our guests.  Without a doubt, Hunger Inc. is about the people, but I will add that it is important to keep a strong eye on the numbers as well.

On people philosophy
We believe that our hospitality and learning focused approach to teams is what makes Hunger Inc. Hospitality a great place to work in and it is also the core of our people philosophy. By a hospitality focused approach, we mean that we actively engage in a two-way conversation with our teams.

Along with a focus on learning, we use these two beliefs as the basis to create a culture and an environment that is fun, social and inclusive, yet does these in a manner in which we hold each other accountable.

It is not one thing that helps us do this. We have numerous initiatives that start from how we hire, to how we train, to how we look at fostering teamwork, to how we engage with the larger community, that look to creating the culture and environment that sets us apart.

On the company’s evolution
Roughly four years after it began, Hunger Inc. Hospitality has 150 employees that serve at least 15,000 guests across two restaurants every month. Of that original management team of  ten, nine are still together but the team has grown.

We have over the years come to rely more and more on processes and systems that we have set up to effectively manage the teams, (and) communicate and collaborate with them. More importantly, as we have grown our practices, we have also had to evolve in a manner in which we take a longer view on the issues that are facing us.

On the company’s USP
It is not one thing that helps us do this. We have numerous initiatives that start from how we hire, to how we train, to how we look at fostering teamwork, to how we engage with the larger community, that look to creating the culture and environment that sets us apart. For instance, in terms of hiring we encourage candidates (especially those changing careers) to come and spend a day or two with us to see how we work first hand, rather than hearing about us in a conversation.

When they spend time with us they interact with various members of our team, and this allows not only us to see if they would fit into our culture but also, allows them to ascertain if we are the kind of organisation they are looking to work for – the latter being critical in ensuring that the relationship we are starting with a particular person is sustainable.

On managing and resolving people issues
When Hunger Inc. Hospitality opened The Bombay Canteen in February 2015, we were approximately a team of 40 people. Of these 40, ten (including the founders) would have been defined as the management team. This (strategy) was based on the belief that if we did not have adequate management bandwidth to learn and grow together, we would not be able to set the foundation of the culture of the organisation in a manner that would be sustainable.


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