Hussain Shahid: Soul of Kandooma

By Shamman Zahir

Hussain Shahid, who has an abundance of experience spanning over 22 years, is the torch bearer for the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) model at Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives, ensuring a sense of belonging for every team member; that there is something for everyone.

Maldives Insider had the pleasure to take a look back on how his career has led him to this point.

As a Glion Institute graduate with his MBA, Shahid highlights the importance of having a vision. Knowing what you want and communicating your goals, even if it’s in the form of Personal Development Planning (PDP).

Apart from music and arts as his past time, a recreational runner since the pandemic, pushed on by his daughter, Shahid considers it important to value your health.

Maldives Insider: Tell us briefly how you got started in your career.

Hussain Shahid: I was a musician, a drummer. After finishing school, I was approached and was asked if I would like to go play with a band. At the time my father did not approve. So that was my first trip to a resort. After completing SEC (presently CHSE), I started working at the Ministry of Trade in the Foreign Investment Services Bureau. I was one of the first interactions with those that came to the bureau. So it’s no surprise that I was acquainted with a lot of foreign investors. I worked in the government and continued to play in resorts for a time. It became exhausting to do both; coming back late and having to go to work at 7:30 in the morning. My career took a turn with Sonu Shivdasani (founder of Soneva resorts), whom I met whilst working at the trade ministry. It was also due to the circumstances; I had my first daughter and not having the time to earn more or part time — proven by how hard it was to juggle two gigs before as well, music and my job. Even so, I still needed to earn more to provide for my family. I was told by Sonu to go see Salil in his office after hearing my interest to work in hospitality, it turned out it was to do simple tasks, similar to the ones I already do. The trade minister at the time, Abdulla Yameen, understood and valued me as well. The decision was mostly influenced by my situation at the time. Fast forward, doing admin work for Soneva was the start. From then on to being the Training Manager at Soneva Gili, a period of two years in Oman at Six Senses Zighy Bay for exposure and the experience of living as an expatriate, Assistant Director of Human Resources at Shangri-la’s Villingili Resort & Spa – Addu Atoll, Director of Human Resources at Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma, and the Executive Assistant Manager today.

Shahid at Six Senses Zighy Bay in Oman.

MI: What interested you to start working in this area?

HS: Compulsion, mostly. Not having a choice and having to find a way led me here. At the time as I’ve mentioned, I was working at the Trade Ministry. Even with a possible increment, the expenses to be made far outweighed the income. Times were very different in the ’90s. There was no Aasanda or National Social Protection Agency (NSPA). One fortunate thing led to another and I found myself working in the hotel industry.

MI: What has your experience been working with international hotel chains?

HS: One word, professionalism. From the appraisal performance management system being used in all of its aspects, proper training and investing in their staff, trust and respect to the chain of command in instances of decision making, exposure opportunity abroad to attending conferences and learning events!

Shahid at Six Senses Zighy Bay in Oman.

MI: What is a memorable moment in your career?

HS: There are a couple, one of which is the farewell from Soneva – at Six Senses Zighy Bay. After having spent a decade with them with so much passion, that one was truly special.

MI: Tell us a bit about what it’s like to be the Executive Assistant Manager (EAM)?

HS: Being the EAM, you’re the resort manager working alongside the General Manager dealing with matters of every nature. In the hospitality industry, the public holidays and Fridays aren’t the same as a 9-5 job. It’s always on the go. The scenarios for every day are different. It is also important to have an open-door policy with your staff. To be accessible and approachable. The trunk represents those at the helm, but the roots below are every member of the team. Without the roots, the tree won’t survive.

Shahid at Shangri-la’s Villingili Resort & Spa.

MI: What is your message to the youth or those entering this field?

HS: We as locals lack commitment and vision – the true passion in work! Commit yourself to the job. Career hopping is good when done in terms. As a former HR professional, I look at a term as a year at the very least, six months if the job is seasonal. A good example, an internship candidate, having completed it, there were no jobs open at the time. But having completed the internship gave him the gateway to his first job. This was back in 2016. Over six years, he is at his eighth or ninth job with little to no progress. You need to have career maturity and stick to your vision to see progress and rise through the ranks.

Shahid at Soneva Gili (now Gili Lankanfushi).

MI: What is the next step in your career?

HS: Having managed as the acting GM in the past, I would like to, at the right time, have the opportunity to prove myself and eventually manage a property in the Maldives, close to my family.

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