Nirupa Shankar: The Hospitality Baroness!

What an inspiration!

With entrepreneurial spirit flowing through her veins, the 34-year-old Nirupa Shankar is the Director of Brigade Hospitality. The young and sophisticated hotelier is making her mark in the business world and she  talks about her venture into industry

On returning from the US in 2009 after her studies, she joined the family business as a second-generation hotelier. Since then, she Nirupa has been instrumental in shaping her company’s business and of course, its fortunes. The milestones, the challenges, initiating the country’s first accelerator programme – such dynamism is what keeps her going.

When did you decide to enter into the family business?

I am a second generation entrepreneur. Brigade was founded by my father, M. R. Jaishankar in 1986. It’s been 30 years since the inception of the company, although the hospitality journey started more recently. We launched our first hotel, Grand Mercure Bangalore, in 2009, around the same time I joined the business. I have always enjoyed the hospitality business. I have grown to appreciate its complexity and have tried to understand what makes each hotel tick. Because of my interest in hospitality, I pursued courses on the subject at New York University and did a Masters of Management in Hospitality from Cornell University. I love the Food & Beverage industry as well, with its quick-changing trends, where one has to keep a close eye on the pulse of the market. This industry is much more responsive to the constant shifts in consumer preferences and behaviour. We then launched High Ultra Lounge, the slickest point for food and beverage in South India in 2014, which is now a must-visit lounge in Bangalore.

Women entrepreneurs in the hotel industry still remain few in number. What is it like being one of the youngest in the industry?

The industry might have 20-25% women in the operations side of the business, mostly in Sales and Marketing and Human Resources. This percentage is drastically lower on the ownership and business development side of the industry. It’s great to see more women taking on leadership roles in hotel operations and it’s always great to see a woman general manager in the field. Our latest venture – Holiday Inn Chennai, OMR IT Expressway also has a woman GM. As for myself, I have never focused on gender. I only focus on the job-at-hand and getting the work done. My way of contribution is to find solutions to problems. However, there is an important aspect of human touch in any business and my goal is to ensure that all staff working with us are treated with integrity and respect and feel happy about working with Brigade.

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