Why award-winning hotelier Debrah Dhugga never stops learning
Debrah Dhugga, from Stannington near Morpeth, is one of a select few female bosses of London’s boutique five-star hotels.
She’s now looking forward to bringing the same success to the new Dukes Dubai which opens in Palm Jumeirah early next year.
What did you want to be when you were young?
I always wanted to be a television presenter, but I would never change the path I have chosen. I still enjoy it as much as I did 25 years ago when I started out as a trainee manager.
How did you end up in your job?
By sheer hard work, determination and being organised. As a working mother I had to be organised in my home life as well as my work life, there were always two lists on the go!
Have qualifications got you where you are, has it been sheer hard work and talent or a combination?
A mixture of both! I enjoy learning and, in fact, never stop. I set out every day to learn something new, no matter how small. I always enjoyed studying the topics I was passionate about, namely management, marketing and hospitality. I believe that hard work and commitment are both important in reaching your goals.
What advice would you give someone else just starting out in your industry?
Be prepared to work hard and to work long hours. The hospitality industry is a lifestyle not just a job. Be 100 per cent committed and, if you are, you will thoroughly enjoy the journey.
Do you feel pressure being a role model to others?
It’s no pressure, it’s a pleasure to work with people and nurture their growth. I enjoy mentoring young stars of the future, no matter what industry they are in.
Do you prefer networking on social media or meeting people in person?
I am a people person and love networking, but as social media has evolved we now have to do both. I am fairly new to Twitter but I now try to tweet daily @littlemshotel. But put me in a room full of people and I am at my best.
What is a very underrated business skill that you thing should be used more?
Investment in people. It’s not underrated but I really don’t think it’s done enough in any business. Your team are the core of your business, invest in them and their training and you will reap the rewards for the business and the team development.
How will your industry evolve in the next five years?
It’s ever changing, but old school hotel keeping will never change. Offering excellence, quality and attention to detail. Trends come and go with style but classic, quality service and attention to detail are ever lasting.
Which three people (alive/dead celebrity or not) would you like to work with?
Richard Branson – Simon Cowell – Arsene Wenger – all brilliant business leaders in their field of expertise.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I did a sky dive for charity when my team in London dared me too! I love a challenge. I also enjoy supporting charities and helping those less fortunate.
Dukes St James London, 35 St James Place, London, SW1A 1NY