Guided by Passion – Wasim Cader

Wasim Cader’s career journey in the Hospitality industry began at the Lanka Oberoi where he was recruited as a Management Trainee. According to Wasim, his time at the Lanka Oberoi enabled him to gain hands-on experience in the trade.
“I subsequently joined the Cinnamon Grand and Keells Hotel Management Services as Assistant Manager-Branding, before joining the Ramada Colombo in 2007. I started off as a Business Development Manager at the Ramada and subsequently assumed the position of General Manager in 2018. In addition to my career at the Ramada Colombo, I play the role of a Director at Cine Digital Pvt Ltd, a company, which provides total solutions for cinemas, home theatre systems and IPTV solutions for hotels and hospitals.” Describing his entry into the world of Hospitality, Wasim said, “Being exposed to the trade at a young age, I have developed a strong passion towards the warmth and cordiality that the hospitality culture entails. My entry into the world of hospitality was motivated by this very reason, along with my love of experiencing diverse cuisines. Hospitality is also an industry fuelled by creativity and innovation, especially in relation to interior design and architecture.
My fondness of exploring and incorporating these elements into my work may also have pushed me in this direction. When I stepped into this industry, it carried great potential to advance with the development of technology and I identify my interest in gaining first-hand exposure to this as another motivating factor.”
Wasim’s professional philosophy is based on 3 simple words as he explained, “My philosophy is based on 3 simple words. Courage, innovation and trust, all 3 of which I believe are required to hold a position of leadership in this industry. Courage in this context is required for 2 tasks; to take risks and explore novelty as well as to cut through red tape in order to achieve this. I chose ‘innovation’ as my second keyword as I believe that a General Manager of a hotel should always be in a creative state of mind. It is something I practice at work and encourage my staff to emulate because we’re operating in a competitive business environment in which a creative culture could really thrive. I would say ‘trust’ becomes the cornerstone of my philosophy because this organization moves forward with the trust I’ve placed on my team and their trust, which I have gained by promoting equity and equality. I firmly believe that a culture that prioritizes innovation cannot sustain in the absence of fair treatment. Trust also comes into play when we seek to build long-standing relationships with our customers. We build customer trust and loyalty every day by offering consistency and superior quality to them. At a glance these may seem like three simple words, but my professional life is shaped by this simple philosophy, which I live by.” On the topic of challenges, Wasim stated, “I’m driven by my urge to overcome all challenges encountered in life, as I derive a great sense of satisfaction out of it. I’m more likely to thrive in a challenging environment where I’m compelled to frequently overcome issues and solve problems in order to move ahead. Challenges open up an opportunity to tap into your creativity and I appreciate anything and everything that inspires creativity in me.” Of the Ramada’s development over the years – “Ramada Colombo, which was formerly known as the Holiday Inn, has come a long way since the property was rebranded. During the post-civil war period, when tourism was booming, the property went through a complete refurbishment and I was heavily involved in this. Along with the growth of the organization, my career journey with Ramada has also moved forward. We have observed the contemporary business environment along with its trends and employed befitting marketing strategies to maximize our brand online. As opposed to our past strategies, we’ve identified the necessity of establishing a strong online presence to boost customer reach. Our social media presence has strengthened and we play a very reactive role online by engaging directly with customer feedback. In addition to this, we’re taking steps toward automating a lot of operations to optimize the efficiency of our team”, Wasim narrated. “I also wish to mention that, in addition to our famous Alhambra North Indian Restaurant and Gardenia Coffee Shop, we have introduced a Japanese fusion menu ‘Mizu’ to showcase the skills of our Japanese Chefs. Acting on the vision of inspiring creativity, our food & beverage team is constantly experimenting with their cuisine, in an attempt to create novel food experiences. However, at present, as the General Manager of a leading hotel in the city, I strive to overcome the challenges posed by the Easter attacks in 2019, whilst handling the impact of a global pandemic on the tourism industry”, he added.

“Our hotel proudly celebrated the completion of 46 long years in the trade of hospitality. We’ve walked this journey with our parent brand, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, which is renowned for being the world’s largest hotel group. The customer loyalty and respect that we gained under the brand name of “Holiday Inn” has been retained under our current brand “Ramada by Wyndham”. For the past 46 years, that is the biggest wealth we have earned. We’ve established relationships with multiple generations in families whose parents and children have both sought our banquet services to celebrate important milestones in their lives. The Ramada family takes pride in these strong personal connections and the brand value that the hotel has maintained for nearly 5 decades”, commented the GM proudly.

When asked for his opinion on the current status of the Hospitality industry and its future, Wasim expressed, “The industry has certainly seen better days as we are currently dealing with an unprecedented catastrophe that has drastically changed the very definition of hospitality. The industry as a whole is compelled to undergo changes to better adapt to the current circumstances and future customers would expect a change in hotel standards, especially with regards to health and hygiene. Our parent brand Wyndham, plays a large role in navigating us through this time of crisis, by providing their insight through an international perspective and giving us descriptive guidelines and checklists that help us better our standards of health and hygiene. At present we are re-evaluating our practices and contemplating more sustainable methods of moving ahead. During a time that the entire nation is encouraged to practice self-sufficiency, we are also contemplating investing in our garden to better manage costs while growing fresh produce for our cuisine. We will also have to consider the possibility of the trend of virtual meetings continuing even after the threat of COVID-19 is neutralized. The convenience, efficiency and security of virtual meetings have been highlighted during the past months and I believe that as an organization we must explore all avenues to provide guests with virtual meeting solutions.”

Concluding quote.
The reward of being in the Hospitality industry is the fulfillment of our customers and truly bringing a smile to their face. Amidst all challenges, I’m inspired to achieve this, especially at a time when sharing a smile is essential. My goal in life is to set standards that even our competitors would aspire to follow.