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Saturday, 30 June, 2012, 15 : 15 PM [IST]

Rajiv Duggal, Managing Director, Kuoni India

There is no shortcut to success and innovation, dedication and hard work has been the formula for success for Rajiv Duggal. His quest for new opportunities and challenges landed him in the travel industry after starting off his career in the hospitality industry. Rashmi Pradhan gets Duggal to unravel his journey so far and and the fine art of balancing his personal and professional lives
A self confessed workaholic, Duggal is one who is driven by challenges and has a penchant for exploring new opportunities. These two traits are perhaps the key of his rise from his first job at The Crown Plaza Surya, New Delhi post his graduation from IHM Pusa New Delhi to the head honcho of one of the biggest travel companies in the country, Kuoni India. While he worked in different departments including kitchen, housekeeping, front office, sales and marketing at different hotels like Crystal Hotel in Gurgaon and Taj Hotels Palaces and Resorts, for a period of ten years, the turning point where he shut the door on a career in hospitality was when he was asked to peel 150 kg. of potatoes.

Reminiscing about his experience he said, “By evening, the nerves on my hands were swollen and it was at that point I decided…. I don’t want to make my career in this profession.” After shifting to the travel industry over 12 years ago as Deputy General Manager, Trade Fair, FIT, SITA World Travel, New Delhi, Duggal has no regrets. An industry veteran, Duggal has had the longest stint with Kuoni India holding various positions and diverse portfolios. “Travelling teaches one a lot. Selling a product (hotel) and a destination is completely a different experience. I didn’t find the hospitality industry an interesting and exciting career option. Travel is not monotonous, I discover new destinations, innovative ways to market and reach out to consumers,” explained Duggal.

Fast Five
Favourite Holiday Destination: Kashmir
Favourite Car: Mercedes
Favourite Food: Burger
Favourite Drink: Vodka with sprite, a slice of lime and
lots of crushed ice
Favourite Music: Old classical (English and Hindi)

Duggal believes in being the game changer and has some basic fundamental rules at work. “I innovate a lot and believe that a manager must be innovative, as when one innovates they create value for company and themselves. When I leave a company, I will be remembered by only those achievements, which dramatically changed the company. Don’t innovate to bring laurels for yourself, but innovate to bring change in the industry,” Duggal opined.

300612_dil_2.jpgMy Morning
Duggal wakes up by six every morning and spends around 45 minutes in the gym. “Since I don’t get much time to spend with my daughter (Jhanvee), I make sure to drop her to the school,” Duggal revealed. Duggal is a fond of preparing tea and for the past 20 years (since he married his wife Kiran); he religiously makes the morning tea for both of them. Duggal’s breakfast is usually heavy, which includes an omelet and a juice.  

At Work
Although Duggal’s office is just five minutes away from home, he doesn’t reach work before 10.30 am unless there is an appointment. “I don’t go to office early because in the morning I love my space and like spending time in the gym and reading,” said Duggal. Challenges are what drive Duggal at work. “The day my job becomes boring I leave it. Problem solving is what keeps me excited at work,” stated Duggal. Lunch is mostly in office and is from home.

300612_dil_3.jpgDuggal’s philosophy at work is that a manager should always manage his direct managers and never go to the ranks below. “The higher one climbs up the management ladder he/she has to be accessible to the entire staff. Higher the designation, greater the responsibilities and it is a tough and lonely life at the top. You need to keep yourself constantly motivated and my biggest motivation is my staff,” revealed Duggal. His idea for success is simple – hard work. “You must be able to work as hard as any other employee of the company,” he opined.

After Hours
On most days Duggal winds up work between 8-8.30 pm and has dinner as soon as he reaches home. “Once home I make it a point to spend time with my family. I don’t receive any work calls. I watch soap operas with my family and I don’t have much choice as my daughter wants me to be with her,” Duggal informed. One of his favourite pastimes on Sundays is to wash his car and take off on long drives.

Over the years, Duggal has become adept at the fine art of balancing personal and professional life. Duggal believes that family support has to be unconditional. “Travel industry like any other service industry is very demanding and very often you are travelling. Family may get angry with you as you are not around very often but they will also quickly readjust and learn to deal with things on their own. Luckily for me, my wife was associated with the hospitality industry and she understands the work pressure and working style,” stated Duggal.

Duggal goes on a family vacation every year. “Whenever and wherever we go on a holiday, we stay for 10-12 days at the same place as both my wife and I love to explore a destination thoroughly,” he added. While travelling on work what Duggal enjoys most is the eight-hour ‘me time’ on a flight. “It is my space and is a peaceful time with no one to bother me. After a long journey, I am refreshed and charged and after landing at the destination I simply adjust the watch to the local time and am ready to plunge into my work,” he revealed.

Apart from travelling, he is also passionate about automobiles and is self proclaimed gadget freak. “I never read the manual of any new gadget I purchase. I try to solve and learn the new applications and discover the gadget. The moment I solve it, I sell the gadget,” said Duggal. Despite living life in the fast lane, Duggal’s philosophy in life is simple, “Be happy and content. Let people around you be content. Smile is the most important part of life. Everybody in this world is stressed but a smile can make things right.”
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