Deepika Arora, regional vice president-Eurasia is responsible for growing the portfolio of Wyndham Hotel Group brands.
Tell us about yourself, your background and what you do currently.
As a child I had a flair for the creative, which led to many accolades in art and painting competitions, and ultimately transformed into a serious professional choice as I secured a place at the country’s leading architectural school – the SPA.
I started my professional career as a landscape architect, which gave me an opportunity to work with some of the finest architectural firms in India. It was through my work with international real estate and construction advisory firms that I found my current career path.
While working on a high-profile real estate assignment I analysed trends in the market and saw that in India two segments stood to grow in the next decade – Retail and Hospitality. This became the turning point in my career as I began to develop an interest in hotels. Making some systematic and not so structured moves, I finally arrived at a space I loved, which is developing new hotels!
My journey with Wyndham Hotel Group (WHG) began in 2010, with the aim to fuel our growth in Eurasia, including India. Wyndham Hotel Group has grown to 34 properties in the last six years. Today, as the regional vice president for Eurasia, one of my key aims is to expand our brands’ footprint by dominating the franchise-based model in this region.
Tell us about any current projects or initiatives you wish to promote
In a span of just six years, Wyndham Hotel Group has established a strong foothold in India with the launch of brands such as Ramada Plaza, Ramada Encore, Howard Johnson and Days. With an eye on expanding each brand’s reach and visibility, WHG will be looking to make a foray into newer territories. We have already entered the market in countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and our biggest priority continues to be supporting our franchisees by providing them with tools to attract and retain customers in this strategically important region.
In the next few years we want to expand the footprint of existing brands and also bring additional brands in different segments to this region, so that no matter where our customers want to visit and no matter how they want to travel, there is a Wyndham Hotel Group hotel that meets their needs. We are also actively working on opportunities to develop hotels across countries such as Bangladesh and Kazakhstan.
Our award-winning loyalty scheme Wyndham Rewards is the first of its kind for a hotel rewards programme. Wyndham Rewards has revolutionized the loyalty landscape, offering members a simple-to-use, generous points earning structure along with a flat, free night redemption rate of just 15,000 points. The programme has been recognized by US News and World Report as the best hotel loyalty program in the industry.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
At a time when we talk about gender equality, discrimination at the workplace remains a reality. Women may be breaking ground in businesses globally but have to face stereotyping and are often underestimated in what some consider to be a “man’s world”. While gender discrimination may be unintentional, it is still very much a challenge.
However, I firmly believe that performance aces everything else. And in my experience when you deliver results, discrimination, whether implicit or explicit, will evaporate.
What has been your greatest achievement personally?
While the crown of accomplishments for any woman leader comes with its own set of thorns, I adorn these thorns with a sense of panache and confidence. One of my greatest endeavours has been to achieve a healthy balance in my professional and personal life. I work with equal zeal to expand the footprint of Wyndham Hotel Group as I do to nurture my two-year-old daughter.
Every accolade I receive, whether it is a professional award or a compliment from my daughter, drives me to carry on and give my best.
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?
Had I not been pursuing my passion within the hospitality industry, I would have liked to create a business venture in the education sector. I have a deep interest and passion for bringing excellence in the field of education and harnessing the power of youth.
Also, travel and fitness play a big part in my life and thankfully my job allows me to travel quite often, thus providing a chance to explore the destination, people and its culture. I consciously try to carve out time for my other passion – running – and participate regularly in marathons such as Pinkathon that aim to raise awareness for women’s causes.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
Arianna Huffington, the founder of Huffington Post has been a big inspiration as she is one of the most influential women in the world and has created a media empire that has redefined journalism. Her personality awes me – she is fit, charming, powerful and continuously innovating.
Like Ariana, my ultimate goal is be to set an example so that other women don’t ever question their own potential.
What does the future hold for you?
My immediate professional goal is to successfully expand the footprint of Wyndham Hotel Group and our brands in Eurasia. I want to escalate the company from a challenger to leadership position, and sustain this position.
On the personal front, I aim to stay mentally and physically active at every stage of life. In the pursuit of fitness, I aim to train for several marathons this year.