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Karan Berry - General Manager JW Marriott Hotel Jakarta

One knows that an interview will be great when the preliminary arrangements have been handled meticulously and smoothly. I received a phone call at 1.50 p.m. to confirm that my arrival to meet with Karan Berry was confirmed for 2.00 p.m.. I was already at the hotel so it was arranged that I should take a seat in the Lobby Lounge. Karan Berry had obviously been awaiting my arrival as he greeted me warmly just prior to 2.00 p.m. accompanied by three members of his Marketing Communications team. We then adjourned to a secluded corner of the Executive Lounge for our discussion, accompanied by the delightful Okkie with whom I had set-up the meeting. 

 

Karan is a youthful and energetic manager who exudes warmth and personality. We were quickly speaking as though we were old friends, sharing ideas and personal experiences. 


WNJ – Karan, I need to start with the inevitable question of what motivated you to seek a career in the hospitality industry. 

KARAN – Due to my father’s high-profile position, the family travelled frequently to new destinations. I also spent quite a lot of time with him attending dinners and functions, which probably kindled my interest in the many diverse aspects of the hotel industry. On completion of my Bachelor of Commerce at Delhi University in 1994, I shared my career aspirations with my father and we mutually agreed that perhaps I should enter the hotel management field. I decided to try for entry into the Oberoi group’s post-graduate training programme for a Diploma in Hotel Management. 

WNJ - I expect you had lots of competition during the interview period as Oberoi is recognized world-wide as the most prestigious college in India. 

KARAN – I have to say it was quite intimidating when I saw the line-up of hopefuls seeking registration and acceptance, but was fortunate to move through the interview process. What was most traumatic for me was when I was facing the final interview and all the thoughts which ran through my head as I walked the length of the room to the head table at which the interview panel was headed by the iconic Mr Oberoi – a small man in stature but one with a huge reputation and charisma. You can imagine my delight to be finally accepted as an Oberoi student. 

WNJ - I note that following your graduation in 1996, you quickly established yourself within the Oberoi group and enjoyed working at a number of their amazingly-diverse properties. 

KARAN - I held management positions with a number of properties including The Oberoi Rajvilas at Rajasthan, The Oberoi Mumbai and Shimia and gained invaluable experiences over this period. 

WNJ – Karan, every General Manager has a compelling memory about a situation which occurred under their watch which had a career-changing impact. What is your most interesting occurrence? 

KARAN - I was at The Oberoi Rajvilas and in charge during my General Manager’s sales visit to USA. The property is a low-rise, sprawling hotel set in over 32 acres of gardens, pools and fountains. The various wings are separated by a system of drainage trenches whilst all of the hotel’s main facilities – Plant Room, Boilers, Kitchens, Offices and Staff Amenities are located in a basement level. My executive housekeeper advised me that this entire area was actually under some five feet of water. It seems that water from heavy rains had somehow filtered down and flooded the entire basement. 

WNJ - Now, not too many managers could say they had faced such a huge dilemma. You no doubt had your work cut-out in solving this mammoth problem. 

KARAN - After evacuating guests to a nearby property I set about the task of restoring the hotel’s facilities. The most invidious task was in informing Mr Oberoi of the magnitude of the problem, particularly as he considered this particular property to be “his baby”. I have to say my staff were wonderful and covered all contingencies including perimeter security as the property was without electricity and any of its regular security services. We were able to reinstate all facilities and services to have the property again operational in what must have been considered record time. 

WNJ - This certainly provided you with a classic example to prove to your owners, your management and organizational skills. 

KARAN - It certainly was a defining and career-changing moment for me. 

WNJ - I see it was in 2008 when you joined the Marriott group and held a number of positions in their properties across India. So what was your motivation to make a cross-country move to Indonesia? 

KARAN - I was actually waiting for completion of a new property in India where it was intended that I become its General Manager. Due to delays in construction - and a vacancy becoming available here in Jakarta, I was asked if I was interested in making a change in career direction and head to Jakarta. 

WNJ - You are married with an eight year old daughter; how did your family react to your potential move to a new country and what would have to be a very different life-style? 

KARAN - They actually shared my enthusiasm and looked forward to the move. My daughter is no stranger to changing schools due to my many moves in India, and has adapted perfectly into her new surroundings at ACG International. The JW Marriott Jakarta team has welcomed us warmly and my daughter now knows and enjoys communication with the Jakarta staff. As we discussed earlier in our conversation, Jakartans have a natural, inherent warmth about them which has made settling-in just so easy for myself and my family. 

WNJ - Now that you are getting comfortably settled at JW Marriott Hotel Jakarta with your family, what are your passions and ambitions as the newly appointed General Manager here and where do you wish to guide the hotel? 

KARAN - Coming to Indonesia, I kept an open mind and I knew what I wanted to do at JW Marriott Hotel Jakarta. I have always kept the Marriott core values in mind and I have great concern for my associates as it is important to meet their needs, communicate as well as develop and recognize them. As you know yourself, customer service is a priority within this industry and that is why I keep a strong commitment towards my customers. More than that, I want to encourage my associates to make a difference, create memories and make JW Marriott Hotel Jakarta more than a hotel but as a destination for our customers. I believe it is important for me to have hands-on-management where I would lead my team by example, set the pace for them and follow-through in detail. However, the most important thing is to be continuously positive and to have fun at work! 

WNJ - Well, you are obviously enjoying your now not-so-new surroundings here in Jakarta. I note that you really enjoy travelling in the limited free-time you have available. I have found Indonesia to be a wonderful country with so much diversity in its cultures and natural attributes. I expect your biggest problem will be to establish your priorities as to where you and your family will visit. 

KARAN - As you can appreciate, I have not had much free time since my arrival here but am certainly looking forward to seeing much more of Indonesia – our new home. 

WNJ - Karan, thanks so much for allowing me so much time from your already-packed schedule. It has been an absolute pleasure to meet you - and to learn more about “Karan the man” as well as sharing so much of your desire to lead JW Marriott Jakarta to even greater heights. 

From my personal perspective, the time I spent in conversation with Karan Berry was an amazing learning-curve which really spelled-out his service ethic. WhatsNewJakarta wishes Karan a long and happy stay in Jakarta. JW Marriott Jakarta is certainly in the most capable hands and its reputation for service excellence can only be enhanced by having Karan at the helm. 

 

Location: Jl. Lingkar Mega Kuningan Kav. 1,2 No. 1 & 2 Jakarta, Indonesia 12950

Website: http://www.jwmarriott.com/jktjw

 


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