Interviews

ZUBAIR BAWEJA, MD – REGENT PLAZA HOTEL

INTEGRITY          MUTUAL RESPECT           TEAMWORK       DETERMINATION

BM: Tell us a bit about yourself?

ZB: I am married, a father of two & currently in my 40s. I enjoy the work that I do, and always strive to come up with innovative ideas in order to deliver something new. I am fond of sports – both playing and watching, and love exploring new places.

Alongside being the Managing Director of Pakistan Hotels Developers Limited – the owners and operators of Regent Plaza Hotel & Convention Center, I also, in coalition with some of my friends, run a charitable educational organization, Roshni Public School, which focuses on providing high class education to the young generation of Pakistan, with the hope of a better future for our country and its youth.

Regent Plaza Hotel & Convention Center is a 5 star hotel property situated in the heart of Karachi, with one of the largest room inventories, i.e. around 400 rooms, and the largest banqueting and conferencing facilities in the city; our Kohinoor hall is the largest pillar-less hall in Karachi. We started off as Taj Mahal, and very soon grew into becoming a very well-known and famous landmark of Karachi.

BM: Why did you opt for a degree in Hospitality Management?

ZB: I have a passion for hospitality, and I have always enjoyed meeting new people. When my father built this hotel, it gave me an opportunity to utilize my passion in the betterment and growth of the family business, and I knew for certain that a degree in Hospitality Management would definitely help me in achieving my goals.

BM: The Regent Plaza used to be Taj Mahal Hotel Karachi later it became Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza Hotel however now it is called Regent Plaza Hotel & Convention Center Karachi. Why so much diversity in name?

ZB: Having Indian ancestral background, my father was much inspired with the Mughal art and architecture. When the hotel was built in the year 1979, the structure and the interior was designed with this inspiration at heart, to give the look of a grand and majestic edifice, and what better name would have suited it other than Taj Mahal.

Later, when the property got franchised with Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza, we continued to serve ever more vibrantly under the flag, while upgrading our skill set at the same time, learning from them. We operated as a 5 star deluxe property, and were named as the Jewel in the Crown of the Asia Pacific, owing to the hotel’s magnificent performance.

Eventually, we decided to part ways with Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza, owing to difficult economic conditions that severely affected the hospitality industry in Pakistan as a result of grave law and order concerns. We assumed the name Regent Plaza Hotel & Convention Center, and continue to serve our guests under the mantle.

BM: Regent Plaza is famous for maintaining its international standards, what difficulties do you face in this maintenance and how do you overcome them?

ZB: It is never easy to run and maintain a hotel with such a large inventory of rooms and banquet halls, and we are always faced with day to day routine difficulties and challenges. However, the key to our success is that we work as a team, and face and resolve all issues with teamwork and determination. My brother, Muzaffar Baweja – Chief Executive Officer of Pakistan Hotels Developers Limited, myself and the senior management of the company make sure that this sense of belonging and teamwork is instilled in all members of the team at each level, both old and new.

BM: What would you tell yourself now when you were starting out, if you could go back in time?

ZB: We, as human beings, are designed, by our Creator, to make mistakes, and I feel no shame in admitting that I have made them too. However, a smart person always learns from his mistakes and avoids doing them again, and if I were given a chance to go back in time from where I started, I am sure I would have a rather long list of Do’s and Don’ts.

BM: Every successful company has to undergo a lot of risks, How do you manage risk?

ZB: Risk is an integral and unavoidable part business that one should be prepared to take. We make it a point to weigh all the pros and cons of any decision involving risk, and then take the most viable and ethically correct option.

THE REASON BEHIND THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF A SUCCESSFUL COMPANY IS TEAMWORK AND THOSE WHO DO NOT BELIEVE IN TEAMWORK ALWAYS STAY BEHIND, NO MATTER HOW HARD THEY TRY

BM: What did you have to sacrifice to achieve this? Or was all this a gift to you from God?

ZB: All I would say is that God Has Most Generously and Overly Rewarded us for the hard work put in by my beloved father and us.

BM: Has the business of Regent Plaza ever suffered and if so what was your reaction, how did you turn your fortunes around?

ZB: Ups and Downs are a part of life – just as good times change, so do bad times. Our business has indeed seen troubled times in the past, mostly owing to reasons outside our control, and we have always adapted and evolved according to the circumstances. While sticking to our core values, the key has always been thinking outside the box. 

THE CORPORATE CULTURE OF SUCCESS COMES FROM WHAT WE VALUE AS A COMPANY AND HOW WE LIVE THOSE VALUES AS INDIVIDUALS. OUR COMPANY IS BASED ON THE FOLLOWING VALUES

BM: Are you still involved in the day-to-day running of your business or do you now have the chance to stand back, analyze your business, delegate and feel confident your team is doing a good job?

ZB: I am not directly involved in the daily operations of the hotel, but I do keep myself well informed about it and give my input and guidance to my team wherever I feel necessary. I am fairly confident that my team is doing a great job managing the operations.

BM: What is your motivation? What message would you like to give our readers?

ZB: The fact that I am passionate about this industry is motivation enough for me to keep going and keep striving towards my own professional development and that of my team’s.

My message to everyone, always follow your heart and try to do the right thing. Remember, hard word never goes unrewarded.

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