After studying law I vectored towards journalism by accident and it's the only job I've done since. It's a job that has taken me on a private jet to Jaisalmer - where I wrote India's first feature on fractional ownership of business jets - to the badlands of west UP where India's sugar economy is inextricably now tied to politics. I'm a big fan of new business models and crafty entrepreneurs. Fortunately for me, there are plenty of those in Asia at the moment.
Chief Marketing Officer, Hyatt
Career: Chief marketing officer, Gannett; senior vice president, marketing, NBCUniversal; chief marketing officer, Univision Communications
Education: BA from Barnard College; MBA from Columbia Business School
Q. You’ve said in the past that the main job of a chief marketing officer (CMO) is to generate growth. Isn’t that the preserve of sales? Is that how you see your role at Hyatt?
I think of all marketing jobs that way... so, yes. What was appealing about the (Hyatt) job was that it was a CMO job with a seat at the table, as a part of the management team. And that makes a huge difference. I am a business person first and a marketer second. There are very few companies that recognise the need to have a CMO sitting at the management table and not a level below.
Q. The one thing that Hyatt hasn’t done globally is getting into the so-called budget market. People might want to stay at a cheaper place during a vacation. Is that a market you would like to get into?
We are not trying to be the biggest hospitality company—you have to have a clear lane that you want to play in. You can’t be everything to everyone.
I actually think that [getting into the budget market] would make it much more confusing and complicated… I was talking to my colleague, who was in the business, and he spoke about how Avis and Budget combined into a single entity and how that proved to be a mess from a marketing perspective. The fact that the Hyatt has far lesser number of rooms compared to some of the bigger hotels gives you a very different experience. The hotels in Shanghai have nine restaurants. The Regency has nine restaurants… people coming into the hotel are not just people looking to stay there. That, in itself, is a very different experience.