Providing people with experience of creative hospitality inspires the development of their careers within our industry. This message underlining the importance of creativity was delivered by Lord Karan Bilimoria at Zest Quest Asia 2022 back in April
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Providing people with experience of creative hospitality inspires the development of their careers within our industry. This message underlining the importance of creativity was delivered by Lord Karan Bilimoria at Zest Quest Asia 2022 back in April.
The speech inspired me on the night and it also inspired me to find out more about Lord Karan Bilimoria’s views of how enabling people to nurture and develop their creativity within their roles in hospitality, helps them, helps their employers, and helps our industry.
We spoke recently and I have set out our conversation below, which I hope people find as enlightening to read as I did to have.
DS: I started by asking Lord Bilimoria: Why do you think Zest Quest Asia provides food for thought for employers?
LKB: “The world is now looking to Asia as a vibrant hub of creativity driving growth in the world economy. In my role as President of the CBI I represent and champion creating a truly Global Britain. This starts through being collaborative with businesses around the world, Asia is rightly a focus for collaboration, and India is now one of the world’s greatest intellectual and creative resources.
“When you look at the direction the world economy is heading in creatively, you have to admire that Pervin and Cyrus Todiwala through creating Zest Quest Asia had already plotted and travelled that course back in 2013.
“Asian cuisine is steeped in splendid culture and tradition, including Syrian, Arabic, Persian and Zoroastrian, all becoming an integral part of Indian cuisine. Indian cuisine has seen refugees from Afghanistan, and Europe including Portuguese and French traders add to the diversity absorbed over centuries into the rich mix of cuisine alive in India today.
“Zest Quest Asia today is imparting this knowledge through their work with UK further education providers and their students. Wisdom that necessitated centuries to acquire on the other side of the world now available to those that want to engage with Zest Quest Asia. Pervin and Cyrus were visionaries.”
DS: Many would say we are experiencing tough times, how do we as an industry look to overcome this turbulence?
LKB: “My father always said to me that the true test of leadership is in tough times, when you need to adapt to survive, creativity fuels this. My father was Lieutenant General Faridoon Noshir Bilimoria, who enjoyed a long and distinguished career in the Indian Army, including being Commanding Officer of the 2/5 Gorkha Rifles. He later served as General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Indian Army’s Central Command. So, he knew a thing or two about overcoming turbulent times.
“In business we all face hurdles at different times, some higher than others, but as my father would say, we need to adapt to thrive.
“People are the most valuable asset of any business, so investing in training and developing our people to meet and overcome adversity is essential. We need to encourage people to be proactive and develop the ability to not just spot problems, but to be creative in finding solutions and acting on them.
“I know from supporting Zest Quest Asia for many years that these qualities are instilled in the students taking part in the competition by Pervin, Cyrus and the wider Zest Quest Asia team. These are not just important in the kitchens the students will go on to run, but also in life generally.”
DS: When you spoke back in April at Zest Quest Asia 2022, trust was a big part of what you said, why is trust so central to your message to hospitality?
LKB: “Again I refer to my father who instilled in me that trust was built on the foundations of honesty, he would say that it was better to fail doing the right thing than succeed by doing wrong. A theme that stands the test of time and is as important today as it ever was.
“A measurement of the importance of trust is The 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer. In summary this year the report said: ‘We have studied trust for more than 20 years and believe that it is the ultimate currency in the relationship that all institutions—business, governments, NGOs and media—build with their stakeholders’.
“Zest Quest Asia’s learning programme teaches students how to trust in their learning to develop the skills required to go through a competition and grow. Not only do the winners win, but all participants also.
“They are given problems to solve and through collaborating with their peers and tutors learn to find solutions. Through applying different tactics, and testing them in the kitchens throughout the competition, a strategy is developed for the final. That strategy is then deployed and the outcome judged on the night. There is always one outright winner, but all involved in the process grow.
“The students through acquiring knowledge learn to trust themselves, this is priceless.”
DS: “Do you have one piece of advice you would pass on to our readers young and old?
LKB: “Yes, fortes fortuna adiuvat, fortune favours the bold our Cobra Beer company motto – to aspire and achieve against all odds with integrity. Do the right things, I say again, better to fail doing the right thing that succeed by doing wrong.
“My favourite saying, from Mahatma Gandhi, a great inspiration to the world. I may be paraphrasing a little but here goes… ‘Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits form your character and your character determines your destiny’.
“All of what we spoke about today is contained within the experience enjoyed by those who have the privilege of taking part in Zest Quest Asia. By helping students develop their vision, values and integrity, we empower hospitality.”
Lord Karan Bilimoria CBE DL President of the CBI
Lord Karan Bilimoria CBE, DL is the founder of Cobra Beer, Chairman of the Cobra Beer Partnership Limited, a Joint Venture with Molson Coors, and Chairman of Molson Coors Cobra India. Lord Bilimoria is the Founding Chairman of the UK India Business Council, a Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London, and a former Chancellor of Thames Valley University (now the University of West London) – the youngest University Chancellor in the UK when appointed.
Karan was a former Senior Non-Executive Director of the Booker Group now TESCO PLC (2007-2016); he is one of the first two visiting entrepreneurs at the University of Cambridge; and a founding member of the Prime Minister of India’s Global Advisory Council. In 2006, Karan was appointed the Lord Bilimoria of Chelsea, making him the first ever Zoroastrian Parsi to sit in the House of Lords. In 2008 he was awarded the Pravasi Bharti Samman by the President of India.
He is an honorary fellow of Sidney Sussex College Cambridge and Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Judge Business School, Cambridge University. He qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Ernst & Young and graduated in law from the University of Cambridge. He is also an alumnus through executive education of the Cranfield School of Management, London Business School and Harvard Business School. In July 2014, he was installed as the seventh Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, making him the first Indian-born Chancellor of a Russell Group University in Great Britain. Karan is also the President of the UK Council for International Students Affairs (UKCISA). Since 2017 Lord Bilimoria has been a Bynum Tudor Fellow at Kellogg College, University of Oxford.