Leading PUSA alumni came together under one roof to celebrate their association and to network at PACE 2018 – the annual forum of PUSA Institute Hotel Management Alumni Association (PIHMAA) in New Delhi. Held at Hotel Taj Palace, the event saw participation from over 250 alumni, including the likes of Puneet Chhatwal, celebrated chef Sanjiv Kapoor (from 1984 batch), Carlson’s KB Kachru, EazyDiner chief Kapil Chopra, Mandeep Lamba, Marriott’s Rajiv Menon and Chalet Hotel CEO Sanjay Sethi, among others.
Hotel baron PRS Oberoi, Chairman of East India Hotels, was in attendance too and was conferred with the ‘Legend of the Industry’ Award’ amidst thunderous applause. He lavishly praised PUSA, calling it a “great institution” and shared that he had encountered alumni from the institute all world the world. Reflecting on areas of improvement in the Indian tourism sector in a one-on-one with Kapil Chopra, he advocated a more pronounced use of the country’s well-heeled coastline, suggesting that it had been a lost opportunity for the country. He also raised concerns over the pure leisure tourist inflow into the country, stressing that countries like Sri Lanka were attracting 1.5 million tourists while India courted only 2.5 million pure leisure tourists, out of the total inflow of 10 million inbound.
Senior alumni like KB Kachru, Raj Menon, Charu Thapar, Gaurav Pokhriyal and Sanjay Sethi walked down the memory lane and shared some fascinating anecdotes about their lives at the campus in their student days. In the session named “Life at the Campus”, stories of festivities, ragging and others were shared by each one of them. On a lighter note, one of them fondly described how the entire batch of students got inebriated with a dose of bhaang on Holi and barely managed to avoid trouble as “good sense prevailed”. Many such personal and previously unheard tales were made public.
Puneet Chhatwal and Sanjiv Kapoor engaged in banter during their one-on-one conversation and spoke about their times in the institute. Sanjiv Kapoor quipped that while Puneet was “six days younger to him”, they shared the same sun sign. He also revealed that Puneet Chhatwal attracted immense attention from his female counterparts in the college, contrary to a “poor man like him.” He shared that both had known each other for around 37 years. Both concurred to have encountered a new and enriching experience at the campus. Instead of business issues, personal likes and dislikes were shared, much to the delight of a spellbound audience.
Mandeep Lamba, President, PIHMAA, instrumental behind the entire operation of organising the event, shared that they had been able to rope in a younger generation of alumni through a concerted online outreach, creating a better mix of past students, young and old. They were able to add over 3400 alumni on their Facebook page, from a measly 72, in a matter of a couple of days, he added, commending the effort put in by Sanjay Raina for muscling up the social media outreach. “This is the first time we have realised how many friends we really have,” he said, noting that the undertaking had received an overwhelmingly positive response from past students. He also shared that his stint with PIHMAA was coming to an end and “it was time for a younger, smarter generation” to carry forward the association’s mandate. “We have to take this (PIHMAA) to the next level and nothing will make me happier to see it going to the next level,” he said, exuding confidence in the future of the association.
PUSA alumni were present in as many as 32 countries, spread across five continents, KB Kachru, Chairman, PIHMAA said in his welcome address – he was accorded a rousing reception. He also informed that alumni from Singapore, Kenya, Hong Kong, and others had specially flown in to be a part of the event. KB Kachru shared that PUSA had “once again been ranked as the number one hospitality school in the country”, adding that the institute had played a pivotal role in training professionals to assume leadership positions in the industry. He made a special mention of PRS Oberoi and thanked him for “having recognised and appreciated IHM PUSA” in shaping the careers of numerous industry professionals. Exhorting the younger generation to carry forward the mantle of the hospitality industry in the country, he expressed confidence in their skill-sets and abilities.
The event concluded on a high note with awarding the ‘Student of the Year 2018’, followed by live music, drinks, and dinner.