Words : Aanya Wipulasena
Photos : Nirmala Dhananjaya
Over a year ago we were catapulted into a global crisis. Countries continue to grapple with a pandemic that has claimed millions of lives and is showing no sign of slowing down. It has heightened economic woes, and affected day-to-day lives of almost everyone. Many businesses have collapsed, and some struggle to stay afloat. This is also a time we see how strong leaders thrive amidst a complete catastrophe.
The Lanka Woman had the opportunity to speak to one such woman leader who stood out, as she maneuvered through the tough times while engaging in one of the most affected industries in the country. Gitanjali Chakravarthy Haaland is the first Sri Lankan woman to become a General Manager for a global hospitality brand. She was also named a Pioneering Woman Leader at the 7th Edition of World Woman Leadership Congress. She also is a proud recipient of the Gold Award for Hospitality in Top 50 Career Women Awards organized by Women In Management, and is among the Sri Lanka Women Leaders – Hospitality Professional at the World Women Leadership Congress.
Read excerpts of the interview here;
My childhood dream was to get into Medical school, so hospitality or working for a hotel was definitely not in the cards. My connection to hotels came at a very young age where I had the opportunity to spend my school holidays in a hotel, thanks to my father who was at that time, the General Manager at a resort, in Passikudah. My dream of getting into medical college didn’t materialize, and while at home undecided on what to do next, I happened to accompany my grandmother, an avid bridge player for a tournament with her friends at a hotel in Colombo. That was where I fell in love, with the hotel, the aesthetically decorated interiors, smartly attired staff and good food. Today I feel my Grandmother would have known my potential to serve in an industry of serving people. Working in a hotel gives me the opportunity to put another person’s needs and desires ahead of my own, and be delighted in their happiness.While becoming a doctor was my childhood dream, in hindsight, today I am very happy the way destiny made me choose a career in the hotel industry.
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