ITC Hotels CEO-in-Waiting Sanjay Sethi Quits Waiting, Headed Back to Mumbai; Prashant Gaurav Gupta, Resident Manager, ITC Maurya, Hired by DLF to Beef Up Luxury Retail Division
THE OFFICE of the COO at the ITC Green Centre, Gurgaon, the corporate headquarters of the cigarettes and FMCG behemoth’s hotels division, appears to be seriously jinxed. Two of its recent occupants have quit within months of moving into the office, the latest being Sanjay Sethi, who put in his papers over the weekend, even as the old ITC hand they were brought in to replace, Dipak Haksar, looks comfortably ensconced in the CEO’s saddle, enjoying an extended tenure till 2019-end.
A suave career hotelier from IHM-Pusa who has had a long innings at the Taj, Sethi was inducted into ITC Hotels three months back with much fanfare from Chalet Hotels — K. Raheja Corp‘s hospitality arm and developers of the JW Marriott and Renaissance hotels in Mumbai — with the understanding that he would be made CEO once Haksar retired in 2018-end. The appointment came as a surprise, for the ITC had departed from its time-honoured practice of not looking outside for people to man top positions.
After Sethi’s induction, another ex-Taj hand was appointed to replace Anil Sharma, a well-known ITC Hotels functionary who retired as Executive Vice-President (Human Resources). The move caused quite a chatter — and some consternation within — about how the ITC top brass was trying to Taj-ify the hotels division.
Sethi’s resignation this past weekend therefore has come as a surprise to industry observers. With Haksar getting a year’s extension (60 being the official retirement age), many of us were wondering whether Sethi would reconcile himself to an extended tenure as bridesmaid. Obviously, he did not — although, on being contacted, he said he was quitting to go back to Mumbai, where he had got a job, but he could not reveal the details because he was bound by a non-disclosure agreement.
Earlier, it was the turn of Ranvir Bhandari, who left as suddenly as he was elevated, after being reportedly groomed for the CEO’s position. He did not get designated as COO; instead, he was elevated as Executive Vice President, Growth and Development, in September 2015 and he quit in January 2017. Bhandari, who now sports a new look sans turban, eventually got hired as Managing Director (Operations) of the Sonu Shivdasani-owned Soneva Fushi ‘castaway resort’ in the Maldives.
In another unrelated development, Prashant Gaurav Gupta, Resident Manager, ITC Maurya, New Delhi, has been headhunted by DLF for its luxury retail division, which manages the steadily expanding Emporio stores.
For Gupta, who was to take over as the Resident Manager of the ITC Grand Chola in Chennai, the move to DLF promises to be a big break, with The Chanakya shaping up to be the grandest F&B and retail destination Delhi-NCR has seen yet, and a third Emporio in the offing in Gurgaon. He will report to Dinaz Madhukar, who, like Sethi, also had a long innings at the Taj Group.
Incidentally, Gupta is the third ITC Hotels executive to be inducted by DLF to manage its many malls — two others, also from the Maurya, were hired recently to head Mall of India, Noida, and DLF Place, Saket, respectively.
To find out more about Sanjay Sethi, check out my previous story at: http://www.indianrestaurantspy.com/topics/topics-2/latest-news/item/423-itc-hotels-hires-sanjay-sethi-ex-chalet-hotels-as-coo-makes-line-of-succession-after-dipak-haksar-clear-sanjeev-kapoor-s-message-to-five-star-hotels-off-season-high-for-taj-palace.html