|Spend an evening talking to the man behind the Ramee Group and it is evident that he is a very humble individual who remembers his roots and what it took to be where he is today.
Bahrain This Month (BTM) caught up with Raj Shetty, chairman and managing worker at the Ramee Group of Hotels & Resorts, during a recent visit to Bahrain.
BTM: From whom have you drawn most inspiration?
Raj: My father has been the main source of my inspiration. Although he passed away when I was only 12 years old, it is his words that I always keep with me.
BTM: How did you get into the hospitality business?
Raj: When my father died, being the eldest child, it fell upon me to help provide for my mother and my siblings. My uncle ran a restaurant back in India and it was there that I learned about the hospitality trade. You can say that I started at the bottom and have worked my way up from there; I have been a bell-boy and a restaurant manager and now find myself as the chairman of a hotel chain.
BTM: When did you first think an entrepreneurial life was you?
Raj: I think it was probably more of a case of necessity dictating that I found a way to make money, not just for myself but also those close to me. My first business was selling kites as a 13-year-old to my friends on the rooftop of our apartment block.
When I was older and had completed my education I went to work in Saudi Arabia. I was fortunate enough to save some money which I then used to set up my own juice bar back in India. It was not successful and I went back to the Middle East to work in the restaurant business. Eventually, at the age of 25, I was offered the opportunity to lease and manage a three-star hotel in Dubai.
BTM: What do you regard as the reasons for your success?
Raj: There has never been any question of relaxing; I have worked as hard as I could in everything I have done to benefit my family, which now includes all those who work for the Ramee Group. I do not believe in keeping money in the bank, preferring to use whatever funds I have to create employment and to make people happy.
We should pay back to society what it gives to us; I think in terms of whatever I do lasting 1,000 years, and to love my country, my company and my family. I am happy when I see others benefiting from my efforts.
BTM: Who do you turn to for advice?
Raj: As a hobby, I like to read books and magazines that talk about economic issues and what motivates people. I also listen to those around me, to hear what they have to say about the business and to learn from their experiences.
The Ramee Group’s first five-star hotel is the Ramee Grand Hotel & Spa in the Seef district. Today, the Ramee Group runs 35 hotels and resorts across the Middle East and India, and employs more than 4,000 people.