Considered as an expert in marketing, sales and brand positioning, Meena Bhatia, a woman of substance, has been an iconoclast since her childhood. She defied all family norms to land up with a job and a field which she always aspired and dreamt despite family oppposition. Today she smiles with a tinge of happiness at the loads of achievement that dots her careers graph and the great respect her name carries in the industry.
Truly so, hailing from a family of academicians, it was but natural that her parents preferred her to take a comfortable and secure position in the academic world. Hospitality sector at that time and era had limited scope for women and commanded lesser respect. “I was however adamant to pursue the career in the hospitality and politely told my parents my preferences”. Eventually they agreed
Armed with a graduate degree (BA- English) from Hindu College, Delhi University and a course in Travel and Tourism from IMM Kolkata, Meena launched her career at the Front Office Operations with Oberoi Grand in Kolkata in 1981 and with a year stint travelled back to Delhi after her father deputation completed.
In Delhi, Meena was back in action immediately and now with the Hyatt looking after both Front Office Operations as well as Sales and Marketing. From 1983 to 1991, she not only garnered all the experience of the industry but also credited with up scaling the business of the then fledgling hotel.
It was however at the landmark Hotel Le Meridien that she joined in 1991, her dynamism and leadership began to take shape. Meridien, an international hotel brand and a part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, was then in its infancy but had a young and energetic team that was busy reshaping the idioms of hotel industry in the capital of India.
Headed by young and visionary Tarun Thakral who is now the Chief Operating Officer, Meriden was making waves all over Delhi with its innovative style and aggressive marketing pursuits. This gave Meena a wonderful opportunity to unleash her talent and skill which was soon recognized by the management.
Tarun saw the talent in Meena and gave her the free hand. Meena soon revitalized multi location businesses by increasing market share that led to the needed impetus in driving revenue. Not only this she concentrated and reenergized the employee development by establishing systematic guidelines in difficult business cycles to achieve short and long range goals. The result was now showing all over
It was under her guidance that the hotel experienced dramatic improvements in quality performance, employee participation and growing profits. She successfully implemented several high impact programs, bringing service culture transformation in the hotel, laying the foundation for a creative atmosphere
Meena has a powerful delivery record in Change Management and was instrumental in Brand Repositioning with Global Rebranding of Le Meridien, a brand that is now synonymous to growth.
A firm believer of women playing a key role in the society, she launched the Spirit of Nero, the first of its kind in the Indian hospitality industry, a unique and result driven marketing initiative.
“I always believed that women must play their historic role in the society, the initiative was more to empower women, to ensure their righteous place,” Meena says with a smile. “Believe me when I joined the industry, this sector had limited role for women but I am happy that things have changed now”.
“It was true also that hospitality industry demanded more hours and that remains the norms till today. Luckily, there is a paradigm shift in today’s approach that makes it easier for women to join the industry”.
Meena was also lucky that her husband, a businessman, gave her the space and time to grow.”He was aware of the demand and responsibility that I had to play and he was not only cooperative but appreciative too”.
Now entering the silver jubilee years of her stint with the Meridien, Meena thinks she has miles to travel. “There are so many challenges that one face every day in the industry, every day is a new day and one wrong move we have to start the journey afresh”.
As Vice President Marketing and Operations, Meena is entrusted with so many other activities that continue to make her hours grow longer. She is a member of many organizations like FICCI, Delhi Women’s International Press Club, ICPB, SKAL and more.
A firm believer in community development, she has initiated CSR as a welfare activity focusing on protection of environment and caring for the physically and mentally challenged elderly and children of Cheshire Home. Her current focus area is ‘Women empowerment’ for which she is closely working with other organizations like the Jojoba IIT.
An avid reader, Meena steals time to read one. Her hobby is the hotel industry and work. In her sprawling office the walls are decorated with several awards and trophies that came her way.