Senthil Kumar

Orchestrating Growth in India's Biryani Scene

Senthil Kumar

Chief Business Officer,

Thalappakatti Hotels

Navigating the complex world of perishable products in the hospitality industry is akin to conducting a concerto of challenges—mastering effective personnel management, skillfully manoeuvring through volatile commodity prices, and orchestrating precise planning and forecasting. However, in the culinary domain, especially with revered dishes like biryani, success needs to be meticulously calibrated to address these challenges. Creating seamless customer experiences hinges on the linchpin of effective personnel management. Meticulous planning, delicately balancing inventory, menu curation, and waste reduction have become the artefacts paramount to success. It’s not merely about freshness but the unwavering commitment to the highest quality standards.
The complexity deepens with the ebb and flow of dynamic commodity prices, directly influencing profit margins. However, with his 25+ years of diverse experience spanning luxury retail, value formats, premium beauty services, and the restaurant industry, Senthil Kumar is crafting new growth stories for one of India’s best biryani brands, Thalappakatti Hotel. As its chief business officer, he is positioned as a strategic navigator in the perishable products and hospitality space. Senthil’s leadership is marked by an unwavering focus on skilled personnel management, meticulous planning, and a profound understanding of market dynamics.
TradeFlock interviewed Senthil to learn more about this work and the strategies that make him one of the best CBOs in the industry. 

What challenges did you face at Thalappakatti Hotels, and how did you drive growth to maintain the brand's status as India's largest Biryani brand?

Addressing significant challenges at Thalappakatti Hotels involved effective management of skilled personnel, navigating commodity price volatility, and precise planning for perishable products. Leveraging diverse industry experience, I adeptly managed and motivated skilled individuals, creating mutually beneficial scenarios. Drawing on historical data and aligning it with current trends facilitated a comprehensive understanding. This informed effective forecasting, considering product perishability, and incorporating insights into fluctuating commodity prices. Striking the right balance in pricing and forecasting facilitated growth, crucial for maintaining the brand’s esteemed status as India’s largest Biryani brand.

How has your diverse experience shaped your approach as a CBO in the competitive hospitality sector?

My varied experience in luxury retail, beauty services, and the restaurant industry has shaped my role as Chief Business Officer, especially in the competitive hospitality sector. Loyalty is key, emphasising consistent, exceptional service for customer retention. Similarities with the food and beverage sector highlight the importance of strategic planning, efficient processes, and accurate forecasting. Effective management of skilled employees is crucial to service quality. The hospitality sector demands meticulous planning and execution, focusing on delivering high-quality services and resource management. Maintaining a delicate balance between pricing and profitability is imperative in a price-sensitive market. Success lies in the harmonious integration of planning, process optimisation, skilled personnel management, and strategic pricing.

How did IIM Bangalore influence your leadership in retail and hospitality complexities?

My Executive Management Programme at IIM Bangalore played a pivotal role in shaping my leadership style and decision-making, especially in navigating complexities in retail and hospitality. It provided a broader outlook on academic concepts, emphasising their practical application in the real world. The programme enabled me to comprehend intricate situations, explore diverse industries, and adopt a solution-oriented mindset. Emphasising the importance of business goals, customer needs, and maintaining integrity influenced the development of my leadership style. Through collaborative discussions and decision-making processes, I learned to approach challenges with a holistic perspective, considering various stakeholders’ viewpoints. In essence, the programme equipped me with valuable skills and insights for dynamic leadership in a multifaceted business environment.

How does your expertise in VC- and PE-funded start-ups create value for consumers, stakeholders, and employees?

Navigating VC and PE-funded start-ups involves balancing investor expectations, business needs, and customer satisfaction. The goal is to not only meet investor expectations but also create substantial value for both investors and customers. Success in this dynamic landscape requires unconventional approaches and scalability, with year-on-year high growth as a pivotal benchmark. My role focuses on formulating strategies that align with investor expectations, resonate with customers and employees, and contribute to overall business growth and success. Success hinges on a harmonious balance between business objectives, employee satisfaction, customer experience, and investor expectations through strategic planning, innovation, and consistent delivery.

How do your values influence your approach as a CBO to team leadership and fostering growth?

My guiding principle is straightforward: construct a team capable of operating independently, focusing on guiding and mentoring individuals to foster their autonomy and development.

How do you prioritise health and well-being in your executive role?

Prioritising fitness is fundamental to my lifestyle, believing in the synergy of a sound body and mind. Despite executive demands, I engage in a daily 3–4 km run, a commitment rooted in NCC experiences that instilled discipline. Lessons from those years shape my approach to balancing a busy schedule and personal well-being. Considering the daily run as essential self-care, it enhances physical health and serves as a mental reset, emphasising the interconnectedness of physical and mental wellness.

What legacy do you aspire to leave as a Chief Business Officer, contributing to both the business realm and society at large?

I aim to establish an enduring, efficient business with minimal human intervention. Beyond business, my goal is to contribute sustainably to society, leaving a legacy of enduring businesses and positive community impact through responsible leadership.







     







       







         







           







             







               







                 







                   







                     







                       







                         







                           







                             







                               







                                 

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