There’s a quiet determination about Varun Mohan, who we believe is the youngest General Manager in the country to head a major hotel brand.
Hyatt Centric is the new contemporary Hyatt brand. Directed at millennials, there are 23 Hyatt Centrics in the world. The Bangalore property is the chain’s first in India. It stands to reason that a brand for millennials is run by a millennial in a city driven by millennials.
At 32, Mohan became the General Manager of the Hyatt Centric in Bangalore. Conventionally, GMs of full service hotels tend to be well in their 40s, having spent their careers climbing rungs up the corporate ladder. That said, the new breed of younger GMs is perhaps only a reflection that the need of the new management is adaptability to a changing market, rather than the administration of the daily drudge.
Explocity-Executive Traveller spoke to Varun Mohan to find how true this is and what the quiet determination is all about.
EXEC: Is your age an asset?
MOHAN: I turned 33 just last week, so I think it is. At least with this brand and the launch of Hyatt Centric. We are changing how we look at hospitality. There are greater things to be achieved at a younger age, which only puts me at an advantage.
There is no “age”. There is aptitude. I’m not a politician. If you have the aptitude for the role, you get the job. I’m not being elected so there is no age to do smarter things. I don’t think leading a team is age-specific. You can be a leader at 18. I have learned and developed my skill set in this time. It’s like asking a author what the right age to be a writer is. It’s skill.
Is Hyatt Centric a business hotel?
Yes it is. Being in the CBD area (of Bangalore), business is our main focus. But more casual. Our service deliverables are not uptight. Exploring is the main intent. Centric let’s guests explore the city through the hotel.
Is Bangalore a significant posting? And how do you plan to contribute to the city?
No matter where I am I make it a point to immerse myself into the city. It’s the only way to get to the heart of it. Bangalore is so cosmopolitan and a young brand like Hyatt Centric fits right in with the city. I find that traditional, luxury hotels are are uptight and intimidating. My idea is that the Centric brand should make guests feel more comfortable with its friendly decor and personal connect.
As for me, I’ve immersed myself into exploring the city. Of course I love the weather but I love the food more. I have a list of about 40 restaurants to try in the city. This will find its way to our F&B offerings.
How do you plan to improve the hotel’s image and what it means to the city?
The hotel already has a very approachable open plan. Guests get the feeling of visiting a friend. The staff is young, friendly and approachable. Pretty much like Bangalore itself. While this is the way a guest feels while staying with us, I want them to feel the same way at the time of booking a stay with us.
So is there a soul to hotels? Or is it just about the money?
I can’t have an agenda without soul. I want the soul of my hotel to allow people to express, curate and explore. It’s my ethos – for guests, employees or vendors.
You make that sound romantic. Would you say there is romance and glamour left in the hotel industry?
There is passion. The hotel industry is a difficult industry to tackle. You need patience. And if you have a passion for your work, there are long term gains. There is still a lot of glamour. I meet the who’s who in town. My network spans city celebrities to politicians to other notable dignitaries. The right networking will take you a long way. But that’s true for any industry or sector. But for me it’s the patience and passion that’s bearing fruit. It’s like a clock ticking towards a definite goal.
So what is your goal now?
The F&B in the hotel is my focus. Since I’m a foodie myself, I’m researching new things to do. I want the hotel to be a Sundowner destination for corporates on weekdays and families on weekends. Bring the family and come by to brunch by the pool. Take a few laps and come up for a refreshing sip of our crafted cocktails. The buffet with cuisines you won’t get anywhere else in Bangalore awaits you.
We asked Mohan a few personal questions, (and ladies, we specifically asked… he’s been married four years.)
Where are you from?
I’m from Ludhiana Punjab. But currently family lives in Mogha. The last ten years have kept me out of Punjab. I feel like a Mumbaikar. It’s who I am. Maybe because of the 6.5 years I spent there.
Walk us through your career?
I started in 2008 in Corporate Leadership Trainee with Grand Hyatt Mumbai. I graduated in 2010 and posted as Duty Manager. Moved to Hyatt Regency Chennai in 2012 as Assistant Front Office Manager. And then I was Department Head, Front Office in Park Hyatt Chennai. I moved laterally to Mumbai in 2015 and was promoted to Rooms Division Manager. And then I moved here in April 2018 to Bangalore as General Manager.
What helped prepare you for this role?
I’ve had a lot of coaching sessions and mentorships. Hyatt inducts young talent pool across the world and given a fast track training and mentorship to be effective leaders. I’ve been part of it from 2017. Foundation For The Future.
Professional journey is more about moments. There is not a moment to not learn. It’s a journey with no end. That’s my philosophy. I learn from my colleagues everyday.