Here’s an opportunity for hospitality aspirants to get trained by stalwarts of the industry and come out as leaders.
Walking into the Oberoi Centre for Learning and Development (OCLD) feels a bit like walking into a delectable altar of hospitality history.
Founded in 1966 by Rai Bahadur M.S. Oberoi, Founder Chairman of The Oberoi Group, the centre is one of the most popular postgraduate options for hospitality aspirants, as it gives them the opportunity to not just learn from, but also work for one of the best names in the field.
Today, most senior managers with The Oberoi Group – Vice-Presidents, Directors, General Managers and Executive Committee members – are graduates of OCLD, and a reservoir of budding talent is running the group’s restaurants, kitchens, housekeeping and lobbies before proceeding to the next level of their careers.
OCLD currently offers two-year postgraduate programmes in Guest Service Management, Housekeeping Management and Kitchen Management. Each of these programmes is divided into three stages – foundation, intermediate and executive.
The foundation stage is designed to develop a strong and consistent technical base in the students. The intermediate stage focuses on imparting skills to effectively manage human, physical and financial resources and the executive stage seeks to nurture the managerial potential of the students. At the last stage, students also work on their individual attributes, motivations and behaviour with assistance from an industrial psychologist and the faculty. This unique component of the course captures what at OCLD is described as a ‘journey of personal and professional development’.
At each of these stages, students undergo 14 weeks of exhaustive theory and practice followed by a lengthy period of professional experience at The Oberoi Group’s hotels.
Guest Service Management focuses on careers in two main guest contact areas: Food and Beverage Service and Front Office. At the end of this programme, students join as Operations Executives working towards the roles of Food and Beverage Manager or Front Office Manager.
Housekeeping Management focuses on careers in housekeeping. On completing this programme, students join as Housekeeping Executives working, towards the role of an Executive Housekeeper.
Kitchen Management focuses on careers in culinary, preparing students to join as Kitchen Executives and work their way towards the role of an Executive Chef.
Knowledge of a third language (other than the mother tongue and English) is an important asset for hotel professionals. To this end, OCLD further offers its students the opportunity to study either Arabic, French, German or Japanese as part of these programmes.
In 2017, the centre also started an 18-month postgraduate programme in Sales designed to train graduates for a long-term career in hospitality sales.
OCLD accepts applicants between 19 and 25 years of age. Those applying for Guest Service Management and Housekeeping Management can be from any undergraduate discipline. However, those seeking admission for Kitchen Management require an undergraduate degree in hotel management. With its global repute, admission to OCLD is highly competitive, involving several rounds of interviews.
Each year in September or October, Recruitment Days are organised at all Oberoi and Trident hotels. After a presentation about life in the hotel industry, The Oberoi Group and the careers that it offers, initial interviews are conducted to shortlist candidates for Quarter Final interviews with senior managers of each hotel. After this, Semi-Finals are conducted at the four regional centres in New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Bangalore. At this stage, students also compete with operations assistants who have successfully cleared a National Qualifying Examination. Successful candidates are invited to Delhi for the Finals.
Vaibhav Somani, a student of the recently introduced sales programme at OCLD corroborates, “I completed my undergraduate education at IHM Pusa and OCLD was all the rage among students there because everyone wants to work with a group like Oberoi. Even my four-month industrial training at IHM was with the Trident in Gurgaon, which is part of The Oberoi Group.”
“I always wanted to be part of Sales and Marketing at a hotel and luckily, the year I completed my studies at IHM, OCLD introduced its course in hospitality sales and I applied,” he added.
“The interview process was rigorous. It took five months and several rounds before I was finally selected. But going through the selection process was a great exercise. I learnt a lot about myself. There were panel interviews, group exercises as well as a competitive aptitude test. Coming through all of this successfully was truly special and made me feel at home in the group,” said Somani.
Demonstrating service values
Inspired by its founder’s philosophy, the first criteria for selection at OCLD is attitude, determination and motivation, tempered with pragmatism and a realistic ambition. Applicants need to demonstrate that they have a passion for assisting people, solving their problems, anticipating their needs and exceeding their expectations.
The Oberoi touch
Sangeetha Gandhi, Dean of OCLD, sums up the OCLD experience, saying, “The two-year Management Programme is a testament of The Oberoi Group’s commitment to selecting and training the best talent to be the next torch bearers of the organisation’s legacy. We have instituted robust systems for the continued development, management and delivery of a globally benchmarked curriculum. The focus is not just on developing the technical competence of associates (but also on) developing their personal attributes and leadership style. Above all, it inculcates in them the service values that continually endeavour to surpass our guests’ expectations.”