Over the next few years, I see technology playing a greater role in training via dedicated applications, YouTube channels, and other mechanisms that marry self-learning with classroom learning.
Post Delhi University and IIM Calcutta, Vikram spent eight-and-a-half years as a management consultant – the first three-and-a-half with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), and then five with IBM’s Management Consulting division. He turned entrepreneur when he decided to tap into, almost literally, the country’s budding partying scene, with the cheekily-titled tulleeho.com. They started small-but-smart, offering perks for pub reviews and have stayed strong over the decades by steadily gaining serious ground as a drinks training and consulting firm. Today, they run workshops, the Tulleeho Bartending Academy, the Tulleeho Wine Academy, and offer extensive beverage training. They’ve even brought out The Tulleeho Book of Cocktails. Vikram also writes for several magazines, including Outlook and Man’s World, on the topic of beverages.
When you started on Tulleeho, the entrepreneurship mode wasn’t very common – not everyone was quitting cushy corporate jobs to strike out on their own indie careers. What made you take the decision to explore “uncharted territory”, so to speak?
There were a few contributing factors. One was boredom with my current job, as well as not being particularly good at it. Second was greed – www.tulleeho.com was born in the first dot-com boom-bust cycle, and there were some early nibbles from potential investors / acquirers. Third was the excitement of doing something new, which had never been done before in India.
What sort of formal education is an absolute essential for your profession? Also, could you share with us the kind of internship or experience that would be helpful for a young person considering this line of work?
What matters most is the peer group at your academic institution. And by and large, I think you’ll find a more evolved and mature peer group at the post-graduate level, than at the graduate level. That combined with the nature of the curricula and its execution, certainly led to the cultivation of certain analytical and managerial skills for me, which have come in use as an entrepreneur.
If you had to draft an elevator pitch for your profession, what would it be?
(I would say it’s) an indispensable bridge between the beverage and the hospitality industry, building the skill levels of the hospitality industry in India.
What matters most is the peer group at your academic institution. And by and large, I think you’ll find a more evolved and mature peer group at the post-graduate level, than at the graduate level.
What are the new trends you notice that are changing the complexion of your profession? How do you see this profession faring 20 years down the line?
Bartending standards are increasing. This is also coupled with increased sophistication of training methodologies which we need to implement. Our training standards would also need to keep evolving accordingly. I can’t see that far into the future, but over the next few years, I see technology playing a greater role in training via dedicated applications, YouTube channels, and other mechanisms that marry self-learning with classroom learning.
What do you do when you are stuck with a problem?
It may not be just a problem, it may be a situation I need advice on. I have a couple of trusted advisors, whom I consult in case I need expert insight on a particular situation. If the problem relates to a project / client issue, then I normally consult with the concerned manager / team. I may occasionally attempt to crowdsource an answer via social media.
Describe a typical (business-as-usual) day at work.
A typical day would include elements of a) project monitoring b) proposal development for new business c) following up on payments d) handling some statutory requirements related issues e) HR / Admin related issues.
I occasionally attempt to crowdsource answers via social media.
The head should rule the heart. If you’re thinking of turning entrepreneur, then set yourself some timeline linked targets and benchmarks, and if you don’t achieve those, move on.
What would your advice be to a young person at the start of his or her career and confused about pursuing passion versus being pragmatic?
The head should rule the heart. If you’re thinking of turning entrepreneur, then set yourself some timeline linked targets and benchmarks, and if you don’t achieve those, move on. Easier said than done as I know myself, but I can’t overemphasize the importance of this.
If you could do some time-travelling and go back to meet yourself at 17, 25, 35, what would you say to your selves then?
At 17 – Apply your mind. At 25 – Find a new job. At 35 – Get back to a real job!
What are the pitfalls of your profession and how do you mitigate them? Did you have any fears when you were just starting out about this line of work, and were any of them justified?
The pitfalls of our profession are linked to issues like Human Resources. We are a unique organization, and hence our staff members make for very attractive hires for anyone looking for beverage training professionals. There’s very little you can do to hold them back, especially when the new company is likely to be a large multinational offering a global job and a glamorous lifestyle. The only good part of this is that our alumni network increases, which becomes a source of business for us, and the Tulleeho brand keeps crossing new geographical boundaries.
What is the kind of supplementary informal learning that will give you that edge on this job? Is there any specific reading that you engage in – trade magazines, books, any online resources (blogs, courses, Facebook or Linkedin communities etc.)
There are a lot of information sources available relating to beverages, from blogs, to websites, to e-zines to YouTube channels.
What is most rewarding about your job?
Being responsible for the lives of 12 people. Building hospitality skills in India via quality execution. Constantly working on new initiatives.
Do you still have days when you think, ‘What the hell am I doing with my life?’ How do you get over that, if you do?
All the time. Go for a run!
(On your resume, be sure to include) Interests outside work, showing that the individual has other dimensions to his or her personality.
What’s your advice for a resume that’s just about to enter circulation? What are the musts it should have that recruiters look for?
Relevant experience and educational qualification. Quality of professional references. Interests outside work, showing that the individual has other dimensions to his or her personality.
How does one network in the beginning to get that initial presence felt, in this profession?
Via social media networks connected to your line of work. Events. Try to write for magazines / papers on your subject of interest.