Driving in the right lane

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Updated: August 18, 2016 2:53 PM

The story of Madhav Bellamkonda, GM, Novotel Visakhapatnam, Varun Beach, is all about sheer will, faith and determination to fight against the tide and stand up strong. From driving an auto rickshaw in his early days to being in the driver's seat as GM, he has a clear vision both for his property and Vizag as a tourism hotspot. By Reema Lokesh

The story of Madhav Bellamkonda, GM, Novotel Visakhapatnam, Varun Beach, is all about sheer will, faith and determination to fight against the tide and stand up strong. From driving an auto rickshaw in his early days to being in the driver’s seat as GM, he has a clear vision both for his property and Vizag as a tourism hotspot. By Reema Lokesh

There was a time not too long ago, when Vizag was considered a sleepy city in the eastern part of the newly carved state of Andhra Pradesh. It was the year 2008-09 when the ARR in the top category hotels was around Rs 3,500 – Rs 4,000 per room night and there was nothing to write about in general about the place, apart for its naval base stories. However, with time, like other Tier II cities of India, the development wave caught on. Local visionaries and entrepreneurs like Prabhu Kishore, from Vizag, realised the potential of the hospitality sector and went ahead and laid the foundation of their hospitality dreams, which was backed by statistics and the passion to offer the country a superlative product. Then came the time to sign a hospitality partner and after a series of discussions Accor was  chosen because it shared the owner’s vision; this finally gave birth to the Novotel Vizag Varun Beach. Madhav Bellamkonda, who worked as the CEO of the parent company, took over as the GM of the property as well. Amongst his various achievements as GM, one of the highlights was to lead a team of professionals that catered to the Naval Event, which witnessed a stream of high profile delegates from the PM of India to the head of the armed forces and more.

On Vizag

Bellamkonda believes that the vision of the owner coupled with some interesting socio-political developments and business decisions have worked well for the property and Vizag in general. Says Bellamkonda, “From the past four years we have been the trend setters in the hospitality space in Vizag. The Accor partnership is truly robust and positive with its excellent network in the global space. This surely works to our advantage. Secondly, the bifurcation of the state of AP helped, as investors came in and so did the business and our large inventory and the convention centre worked well to cater to and tap the MICE segment.” He proudly adds, “Today the property is on the highly desirable list for grand destination weddings, high profile product launches and more.” After tasting success in the city itself, the group has gone ahead and built a boutique five acre resort property in an area called Bhimli, which is a 30 km drive from Vizag city. Adds Bellamkonda, “We have our very own scenic ocean route in this region, considered one of the best marine drives of India. Vizag has truly a lot to offer to the tourists especially in the field of water sports tourism and the government is trying to take this vision forward. However, we at our end as private hospitality players are keen to promote the region to the world, and not just our hotel.”

Beyond hospitality

He attributes his success largely to the his mother, who was a devout Christian. “After my father lost hope in me, (I guess), my mother took charge. She told me to learn theology, which I did, worked at a seminary at the Centre for global leadership development from 1995-2004,” he reminisces.

Bellamkonda started out a failure in academics, a teenager with no aim and vision and who quite naturally depressed his parents due to his wayward ways. During his early years, his father finally  gave him no choice but to start riding an autorickshaw for a living in the city. As a college drop out and without much choice he had to comply with his father’s command. “It is my past that has made me what I am today, ready to face the future without fear,” says Bellamkonda. In 2004 he decided to do his MBA, in strategy and finance. He sold his assets to raise money, borrowed some as well to pursue his dream of an international MBA.

This risk and hard work did reap rich rewards as he was awarded the best MBA student of the Strathclyde Business School. From a successful career at Scottish Power as investor relations manager, wherein he worked with the top management teams to  Bank of Scotland where he worked as associate director for JVs, for real estate transactions in Europe. In 2008, when the learner in him, asked for more. he moved back to India to explore a new world of opportunities. From special community service of educating young minds to a dream of setting up his own school one day, Bellamkonda’s advice to the GenNext is, “If you dream, you can achieve and losers can become winners through right mentoring.”

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