“It was always a heartfelt desire to pursue a Masters Degree in Business from a reputed University and I am pleased to have chosen Manipal University Jaipur. They have a good understanding of busy work lives and this for me was an opportunity to fulfil a desire right where I am,” says Sarina D Menezes, Head & Vice President- Brand Marketing & Corporate Communication at Oberoi Realty Ltd who has had an illustrious career of over 30 years with multiple hospitality and real estate luxury brands.
Sarina started her BA degree in Economics, Psychology and Sociology at St Xavier’s College Mumbai but soon realized she wanted to pursue a professional course and stumbled upon WGSHA at Manipal University (now MAHE) that offered a degree in hotel management & hospitality in collaboration with ITC Hotels. Making her a former Manipal University Alumnus too.
The initial stages of her career were focused on developing business skills and finding opportunities to grow as a leader. However, having always known that she enjoys working and interacting with people – be it customers or colleagues in the service industry, she picked roles that involved plenty of opportunities for human interaction and connectivity.
“I started off in Sales and Business Development in the luxury hospitality industry. Starting with ITC Hotels and then moving to Oberoi Hotels. Being a very demanding and fast paced industry, I did not have the time to think or pursue an MBA. Besides I was enjoying the steep learning curve and every aspect of the industry. In 1996, I was approached by a hospitality veteran who was starting India’s first private membership club and that was an opportunity to make my foray into Branding and Marketing. I realized that my strength was in using storytelling, creativity and innovation as a Brand Custodian.
In 2020, Sarina moved to an International Property Consultancy and into Prime Real Estate. My role was to market Branded and Prime residential properties located in New York, London, and Dubai. Later, I moved to Oberoi Realty Ltd as Vice President – Brand Marketing and Corporate Communication. An exhilarating journey so far and an opportunity to work with the best in the luxury real estate and hospitality segment,” she says.
Throughout her career, surprisingly, she was never questioned for not having an MBA degree. Speaking about why she did not pursue one, Sarina says, “Looking back, I feel my entire career span has been like an MBA learning as I worked with the best and some fabulous Leaders. India was at the cusp of liberalization in the early 90’s. There was lots happening at the work place. And in those days, the halls of MBA schools were the likes of IIMs, Bajaj and NMIMS – which were for the far and few toppers. Business schools had a very tough and rigorous entrance process.”
She enjoyed working closely with Leaders who invested in her. Having to juggle work and family life, there was no time to give up work and go back to University. However, as her career progressed, the desire to acquire a Masters degree surfaced and grew stronger again. After much searching and years of waiting for a flexible learning opportunity, she came across Manipal University Jaipur when they announced their two-year online MBA degree in 2021.
“It’s amazing to see Universities now come home. I found the curriculum designed very well to provide flexibility, cater to different learning styles and the convenience to plan study times considering I am a self-study person. So in 2021, I decided to gift myself an MBA course on my 50th birthday,” she says.
The biggest learning or takeaway for Sarina in these two years was the discipline of leadership and how it affects and percolates down to different business functions and finally the stakeholders.
“I enrolled for the program in April 2021 during the second lockdown. Things were still slow but soon India opened up, business started accelerating and I changed jobs. It was the most challenging time for me to manage the transition, demands of a new job and exams. Some exams were on the day of the product launch. I would give my exam in the morning and rush for the launch in the afternoon,” Sarina says. Sarina diligently listened to lectures every weekend. “As an auditory learner, I like to learn by listening and reading. I also used my work experiences to illustrate and write my papers. Lunch times at work, evenings and weekends were all dedicated to studying as we approached exam dates and submissions.” she says.
Throwing some light on the online MBA course structure, she says, “It’s a well-designed program because of the flexibility it offers. If I’m not able to make it for a particular session or lecture, there’s a recording I can listen to in the car during travel times on my phone. There is good reading and listening material to study when I wanted so even when I was in London, I could read my notes.”
Sarina believes that young people at mid-management level must consider an MBA after a few years of work life if you want to grow to lead a department and a business.
“Fortunately my experience was different. I was never asked me why I did not have a Masters degree. I was never declined a promotion or a leadership role because of a lack of a MBA degree. But those times were different, I have worked with businesses at a time when India was on the brink of opening up. And now, of course, this whole journey of becoming one of the fastest growing economies. Hence, it is imperative to qualify yourself and not rest on the fact that if I am not asked, there is no need to qualify.” she explains.
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Manipal University Jaipur