1. Introduce yourself
안녕하십니까? 저는 인도에서 온 시마라고 합니다. 우리 딸이 한국말을 잘 해서 도와 달라고 했습니다. 잘 부탁드립니다. My name is Seema Pande. I am a hotelier who has been based in Dubai for the past 30 years. Thanks to my father, who was in the army, I had the opportunity to grow up in many parts of India and learned to adapt quickly to everchanging environments and make friends easily. These skills helped me in my developing my hospitality career and in growing my business. I am married and have two kids, one of who lives and works in Seoul so I feel very connected to Korea and Korean Culture.
2. What was your story of becoming CEO of Elev8 Representation & Consulting? (please talk about your past work experience, career growth journey)
I had the good fortune to work in hotels like The Fairmont, The Address, Armani, Burj al Arab, Kempinski etc. and was part of their commercial teams so have extensive knowledge in bringing business to the United Arab Emirates from various parts of the world. I started my sales journey as a Sales Executive in IHG hotels and worked my way to heading the Commercial team at Emaar Hotels. Due to the nature of my job, I used to fly all over the world building my network and expanding my knowledge about the hospitality industry. I combined my passion for the hospitality industry and my enthusiasm for working with people to start my own company.
Now, my team and I work with travel partners and clients in the GCC region and help them go on holidays or plan their business meetings in various countries around the world, where we have hotels and Destination Management Companies (DMC). We work closely with the Marriott Hotels in Mauritius, The Mandrake in London, Serena Hotels in East Africa, Swiss-Belhotels International as a brand, Aitken Spence in Sri Lanka etc.
3. What's the mission behind the Elev8 Representation & Consulting? share your long-term vision?
As I grew senior in my positions, I wanted to try and achieve more complex goals and not do just my basic job. I wanted to expand my work with clients, meet the travel partners and be part of the network that helps people go on dream vacations, organize their perfect wedding, manage their conferences etc. One of the basic visions behind Elev8 was for me to continue to work in hospitality and make my clients, and their partners, dreams come true.
Given my past experience of launching and opening successful hotels in this region, Elev8 uses commercial consulting tactics to assist companies with new hotel openings and helps existing hotels positioning, re-positioning as well as aligning their commercial teams. Additionally, one of the biggest joys of my working career was to work with young people and be part of their journey to grow within the organization by guiding them. In my previous consulting projects, I have also been involved in trainings for sales teams as well as leadership modules, which gave me opportunity to connect with 'MZ' generation to ensure there is no gap between the senior members of staff and the rest of the team and that the young members of staff can be successful in the future. The consulting part of Elev8 allows me to continue to achieve this mission.
In the long term, we would like to be the representation office for key hotels and DMC's around the world and also be the employer of choice for hospitality commercial staff when they look for alternate career in this region. I would also like to work closely with international hotel brands as well as local hotels in assisting them in their commercial needs of setting, aligning and positioning as well as help young leaders grow in their roles. A personal dream of mine is to work closely with esteemed Korean hospitality brands like Lotte Hotels.
4. How important is it for you is to support all the communities in the UAE?
UAE has been my family's home for more that 30+ years. We have had a great life here and I feel it is time to start giving back to the community. We have always maintained a multi-cultural outlook to our lifestyle here, at home as well as the workplace, and will continue to do so. Besides the friends' circle, my teams in all my previous jobs have also been a good mix of various cultures and communities and the trend continues to this day. My team at present consists of Moroccan, Philippina, South African, Romanian as well as an Indian national. Besides the fact that this opens doors for us with all our partners, it also gives us, as a team, various different outlooks to the same scenario, thus helping us take the right decision.
5. What would be your advice to young entrepreneurs on what is the most important factor in success in life?
The most important factor to being successful is to know what you want in life and then work hard to make it happen. A lot of people do not succeed in life, not because they are lazy or not prepared to work hard, but because the goal is not clear. I always advise young people, including my kids, to take time out and identify what it is that you really enjoy doing, take that up as a career and you will never have to work any day of your life. That is because your passion and your goals align to create a journey that you want to take and when that happens, success cannot be far behind. With success comes happiness and money, both of which are important to live a good life.