Big interview Take the lead

After joining Marriott as a night auditor in 1988, Satya Anand has risen through the ranks at Marriott International during an impressive 33-year career. Now, as the newly appointed president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Anand faces his biggest task yet: helping Marriott recover from the damage infl icted by the Covid-19 pandemic; overseeing 948 hotels spread across 75 countries. Will Moffi tt speaks to him about his prestigious career, his strategy in the wake of Covid-19 and his long-term vision for post-Covid recovery.


atya Anand has been to Wimbledon many times, but there is recognisable sadness in his voice as he admits to not attending a match this year. Instead, travelling abroad, Anand watched the grass court feats of athleticism from afar, but he continues to draw inspiration from the tournament’s leading lights. “If you think about a tennis player, the moment they get on to the tennis court they are singularly focused on winning the game. And to win the game, they have to concentrate on the next point,” Anand says. “To me, tennis players are a great source of inspiration because they have the tenacity, they have the resilience, [and] they come back from deep setbacks.” While not endured in the form of scream-inducing injuries or tear-jerking championship losses, resiliency has become something of a golden commodity in a world reeling from a head spinning mass pandemic. Just like any other industry struggling in the face of an economic downturn, the hospitality sector has needed its fair share of competent leaders of late; dogged visionaries capable of seeing through the current malaise and carving out a pragmatic direction for future growth. For Anand, newly promoted to the position of president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at Marriott in November 2020, the mission statement has been driving the groups’ recovery in the wake of Covid-19. It is a task that would be formidable enough for a seasoned veteran – the role encompasses some 948 hotels spread across 75 countries. Anand, however, didn’t have the luxury of bedding in. Instead, he was communicating with stakeholders and hotel managers to cope with travel restrictions and national lockdowns, along with monitoring outbreaks in myriad countries.

“This is something that nobody expected. Nobody could even fathom in their wildest dreams that something like this could happen. So, when it happened, we had to adapt very quickly,” he says. “What was challenging was that each country, and sometimes each state, had their own jurisdictions and they would provide new rules, and keeping up with that was a challenge… but certainly operating in 75 countries also provides a lot of opportunities for us to establish ourselves.”

10 Hotel Management International /


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