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An Interview With Prathima Ashok From ‘The Golden Ivy’

Born and raised in the little town of Coonoor, Prathima Ashok is a Hospitality graduate, a diploma holder in event management and has a Master’s in business administration from PES and Retail studies from the University of Stirling in Scotland.

She has interned with leading hotel chains in India and has gained work experience primarily in operations and training from pioneers in the retail industry like Spencer’s who operated stores under the brand “Foodworld”. Currently she owns a small holiday rental business called ‘The Golden Ivy’ that plays host to people from various walks of life.

Loves to read, an ardent traveler, an adventurous hiker, musically inclined, a passionate theatre artist, an aspiring writer and an amateur photographer, she is driven towards causes that involve environmental sustainability and youth service and engagement.

Her Story

Speaking to us about the roller coaster of a ride that has been her life and the experiences she has had thus far, Prathima Ashok is a self made, fearless woman, who has taken on every challenge with grace and confidence, inspiring young professionals all over the country.

She began her career soon after completing her MBA at Eagleton Golf Resorts where she worked as a sales executive but her passion for the hospitality sector soon drew her towards the area of customer relations where she got the opportunity to grow her connections and reached her peak at her position of work.

Deciding to change directions, Prathima went on to join Uniform India, a large format digital printing company where she once again worked with the sales department along with shouldering huge responsibilities that proved to be a great learning experience where her event management learning was a great help. She then went on to join the Foodworld retail chain as a store manager.

Thanks to her hotel management knowledge, she did extremely well at the job and was soon promoted as the regional trainer for the entire chain of Foodworld retail stores in the country. Used to traveling a lot, Prathima had been responsible for training employees and different levels of management to understand organisational changes and helping them perform better at their jobs.

These experiences taught her a lot about people skills and was a great learning for her. Her passion for FMCG retail only grew thereafter and she found herself wanting to learn about the foreign retail industry and started looking for opportunities to study abroad. She was eventually accepted into the University of Stirling in Scotland where she managed to gain some work experience along with pursuing her one year long course.

She used this time to learn more about the Health and Food Safety Standards that countries abroad adhered to and learnt a lot in terms of having to deal with early mornings and long work hours. Moving back to India, Prathima joined an apparel retail company and handled regional operations for them, dealing with franchises, warehousing and store operations, and running a single woman show that also included lots of travel, people skills along with lots of learning.

The stress eventually caught up with her and she decided to try out something different. This led to her getting an opportunity to work with TESCO, working with their central and European teams to do store design. She stayed with them for a good 4 years before she was diagnosed with cancer in the year 2013. While it completely flipped over her life, she sees it as a blessing in disguise, a pause button to her ever moving hectic life.

She used this time to reflect on her life and realised that all the while she was a part of a rat race and so decided to take the plunge and to start following her passion and do something that she loved. Prathima went on to work with two start-ups post that, one that dealt with captioning and localization along with movie captioning, where she learnt a great deal in the process.

In the year 2017, she had enough of working for people, helping their businesses grow and so she decided to move back to Coonoor and soon after founded her very own holiday rental business, ‘The Golden Ivy’.

The Effects Of The Pandemic On Her Business

Since the pandemic began back in March, Prathima has been strict with following protocol and shut down her hotel to help curb the spread of the virus. During the time, she has been researching on enhancing her client’s experience by identifying new and exciting activities for them to engage in. She has also been finding ways to rethink how she runs her business, enhancing her customers’ experience.

From doing tasting sessions, biking expeditions, culinary experiences and cultural experiences, Prathima is excited to try out new ways to create experiences for her clients. She is also aware of the financial hit her business has taken this year but is looking to turn it around for the better by offering staycation opportunities and reaching out to corporates to use her hotel as guesthouses and holiday homes for their employees. She is actively using this time to rethink business models at different levels.

2021 And Her Plans For The Year

Since starting her own business, Prathima stopped living life based on achieving success in terms of money and fame but looked forward to living a more mindful and conscious lifestyle.

Today, she takes each day as it comes and is living life to the fullest, growing and learning at her own pace in the process. She looks forward to growing her business by providing customised experiences for each guest. One thing she believes the pandemic has taught us is the importance of communities and the need to maintain strong interpersonal relations.

Prathima is excited to incorporate retreats and include smaller tribal communities into her activities at the hotel in the coming year.

Parting thoughts

“ When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at, change” A saying Prathima strongly resonates with and that has helped her look at every obstacle as an opportunity. She advises the younger generation to follow their hearts and not be discouraged by the narrowmindedness of societal ideologies. “Follow your passion, chase your dreams and believe in it wholeheartedly. When faced with difficult times, just learn from it rather than question it, the more you resist the more it persists.”

It was indeed absolutely wonderful having Prathima join us for the session where we learnt a great deal about her and her journey through the stories she shared and the words of wisdom conveyed.

We thank her for her time and wish her the very best of luck for the future.

In case you missed out on joining in for the live session, head on over to our Instagram page to watch the recording.

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