Sheryl de Sa elaborates on her rise in the hospitality industry and her role as President at Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Diversity and Inclusion (WICCI D&I) Goa.
Sheryl de Sa was born in Goa, is the oldest amongst four sisters and comes from a loud and fun-loving family. She grew up in Oman and came back to Goa to complete her education. She did her schooling from Our Lady of the Rosary High School in Dona Paula, higher secondary from Dhempe College of Arts and Science and completed her education with a degree in Dietetics from Goa College of Home Science.
Sheryl loves to read especially comics, like Archies, Garfield, TinTin, which keeps the child in her alive. Occasionally she picks up a good mystery story and one of her favourite authors is Mary Higgins Clark. She stays true to her Goan roots with her love for music, genre notwithstanding.
Sheryl speaks on getting into the hospitality sector. “After I completed my education, I actually looked for jobs at various hospitals in their dietetics department. At the time, there were hardly any opportunities available, so a family friend said that there was a vacancy at a reputed hotel and suggested I should apply.”
Sheryl began her career in hospitality with Goa Marriott Resort and went on to become General Manager of ibis, Pune Hinjewadi, a hotel that is a part of the Accor Group. “I had an incredible tenure of over 11 years with the Marriott. I started in front office where they believed all employees should be multi skilled – the American way of doing things. Hence, my first task was being made to stand at the concierge desk. It was a complete shock for me but 20 years hence it is part of who I am and makes for some of my best memories.”
Marriott as an organisation puts its faith in the idea that taking care of employees would motivate employees to take care of customers, and that commitment has stuck with Sheryl over the years. “I also had the good fortune of working with inspirational General Managers like Hans-Georg Roehrbein, Phillip Spencer, Neeraj Chaddha and Pavithran Nambiar. They played a pivotal role in making the workplace a safe place and ensured that we always felt valued. So treating people the way you would want to be treated and making sure you take care of your teams to help them grow is part of my DNA.
Later, she moved from the Front Office into Sales and went on to hold various positions over the years. “A decade later, when my children were older, I decided it was time to move. It is very important for me to have an open mind and continue to learn or experience something different.
Moving to Accor was truly one of the best decisions that I made personally and professionally. My journey with Accor began in 2015, as Associate Director of Sales for the 270-room complex of Novotel Goa Hotel and the Novotel Goa Resort & Spa. In 2016, I moved as Director of Sales & Marketing to the first ever ibis Styles brand in the Country. In this role, I was responsible for driving Sales and Marketing strategies, optimizing revenues, promoting brand strategies and diversifying business opportunities and was instrumental in setting up the property.”
Sheryl graduated from Accor India’s Executive Leadership Program in 2017 and with a successful launch and positioning of the Hotel, she then moved into Operations as Director of Rooms in 2019.
“In 2019 I was selected to be part of Accor International’s prestigious ‘International Hotel Managers Programme’ – a fast track development for General Managers in 2019.”
With a career spanning over 17 years in hospitality management and business leadership; Sheryl is now the General Manager for ibis Pune Hinjewadi, a beautiful hotel with a panoramic view of lush green hills.
Along with a career in hospitality, Sheryl is the President at WICCI D&I Goa. She highlights her role on the same.
“As part of RiiSE Accor International’s network in support of gender equality and diversity, I am the fourth female General Manager in our region. I also represent the ‘Gender’ Pillar for the Diversity & Inclusion Committee, Accor India. I believe that organisations with a significant representation of women on board regularly out-perform those with a more homogenous leadership.”
Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (WICCI) is a premier National Business Chamber for Women envisioning global impact for women entrepreneurs, businesswomen and professionals from all walks of life. “This voluntary assignment is for their diversity and inclusion chapter under the leadership of a very vibrant and versatile national president, Lakshmy Shankar. It is imperative for women to support other women, to come together from various fields to pay it forward and give back to our community. To have reforms and policies in place that support basic rights for children’s education, safety, mental health, well-being, and all pillars of D&I in general. This is a new role so we are in process of forming teams. Goa has so many wonderful, interesting and hard working women who can make valuable contributions and create an impact for Goa” she adds. Sheryl considers herself lucky to not have faced many challenges over the last 17 years in the industry. “With how Marriott and now with Accor, I have never been made to feel any less valued than my male counterparts. The only challenge or roadblock is when it comes to being able to take a transfer and you have to move your family. My career did slow down but that is a conscious decision I took to say no to mobility and my companies always respected and supported that decision.”
Speaking on motherhood she says, “Becoming a mother changes everything, but I believe that most women are built genetically to have their worlds rocked and then pick ourselves up, put on our business attire, go back to work and continue to manage work and home.”
“However, the fact remains that this is a male dominated industry. Sometimes the same reaction from a female comes across as aggressive while from a man it is construed as assertive. We need to make our place at the table and work hard to hold our place at that table!”
Her parents, sisters and husband, Dominic, have always supported Sheryl. Her sons are extremely proud of her and she considers herself lucky to have friends and neighbours who she describes as angels, watching out for her boys in her absence.
Sheryl’s greatest strength lies in her commitment to her teams. “I also have a very hands-on approach to work. It is equally important to ‘learn to unlearn’, to keep up with ever changing trends and technology, so you are not left behind. Vision, clarity, innovation and agility is key!”
Regarding her future plans, she says, “I want to continue to have a long and healthy career in the industry but more importantly to transform the workplace, help people grow, pay it forward, continue to be inspired and inspire others.”
Sheryl concludes with a message to aspiring women leaders. “As a female leader, coaching and mentoring to develop and promote growth is imperative. It is essential to help women become powerful contributors at any levels of any organization. It is important to continue to learn, inspire and be true to self and your team”