An interview with Capital Club Bahrain’s General Manager, Sumeet Jhingan

Capital Club Bahrain, the country’s prestigious private business and social club, has proven to become the highly preferred venue for socializing, executive meetings, as well as corporate events and gatherings, among Bahrain’s most prominent figures from both the private and public sectors. 

As the premier club paves the way for its one decade of operation in the Kingdom, another milestone is yet again to be included in its myriad of successes in providing top-notch service and unparalleled hospitality to all of its esteemed members.

We met up with Capital Club Bahrain’s dynamic General Manager, Mr. Sumeet Jhingan, to learn what’s in store for the club’s 10th anniversary here in the kingdom.

Sumeet, you have worked as a hospitality professional in various countries. Can you share with us some of those experiences?

Sumeet: My journey started in Australia where I studied and worked. From there, I decided to move to North America and then the Middle East. Over the years, I was able to work in various 3-Michelin star restaurants, Top Hotels, Private Club Operators and Renowned Restaurant Group which led me to my current juncture here at the Capital Club Bahrain.

Tell us about your  first move into the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Capital Club.

Sumeet: When I went to Bahrain for the interview, my initial feeling was that it wouldn’t be challenging enough for me since I have experienced working in Dubai and New York for quite some time already. However, since landing the position as General Manager, every single day for me has been very entertaining and fulfilling. I think I have, over time, fallen in love with the Kingdom of Bahrain and the love I have got here is incomparable. I am ever thankful to my Board of Governors especially to our Chairman, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Essa Al Khalifa and Vice Chairman Mr. Jamal Fakhro. Also, special thanks to Sheikh Hisham bin Abdul Rahman bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, Governor of Capital Governorate; Sheikh Khalid bin Humood, CEO of BTEA and Dr. Ebrahim Janahi, CEO of Tamkeen,
who have been very much involved with the club and are all ever supportive of our hospitality initiatives.

As you said, you currently serve as the General Manager (GM) of the Capital Club Bahrain. Specifically, what is your primary obligation as the leading face of the club?

Sumeet: Working both with members and behind the scenes, I must look into the intricacies of what it takes to manage the day to day operations effectively. It also helps in foreseeing the market demands and creating a sustainable business model. The prime responsibility is to enrich members lives by providing excellent levels of personalized service as we believe, ‘It’s a member’s business and not a number of businesses.’

Being a strong advocate of sustainability, Capital Club has embraced the UN’s Sustainable development goals including gender parity between male and female employees. Edible cutleries were introduced early this year, inspiring other operators to join the cause. As an organization, we look forward to designing and developing new venues to align ourselves with these SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). We’re also a huge proponent of vertical farming and will be implementing this across so that we may be able to grow and supply food within the venue.

In the 2 years working as the GM, what has been. the biggest challenge you have encountered so far?

Sumeet: Every day is a new day; we anticipate new challenges daily. We strive for exceeding guest expectations of 950 Members 365 days a year. We take pride in aligning ourselves with current business trends, but most importantly, predicting and implementing these changes which sometimes can get quite challenging in our business.

2019 will mark the 10th year of the Capital Club here in Bahrain. What are the things we can expect to transpire from this milestone?

Sumeet: We are actively working on the first business awards in the kingdom. We also plan to release a book which will highlight the club’s journey and how our business has evolved here in Bahrain. Another essential milestone to look out for is our expansion in the Middle East and Asia, as well as working with different sectors to promote business optimization for our membership-base regionally and internationally.

The buzz about VAT implementation in Bahrain this year is obviously all over the place. How will this affect Capital Club’s current operation in general?

Sumeet: Every country has to implement economic reforms to sustain and achieve growth and development. As we all know, the world is changing rapidly – whether its gold, oil and gas – and the stock market are all volatile now. I think VAT is a positive resource for the government which allows the business leaders to create a sustainable environment. Its human nature to resist changes but with time everything becomes a norm.

From a professional standpoint, what can you say about the current state of Bahrain’s hospitality industry?

Sumeet: The minute you set foot on the Kingdom of Bahrain, people are very welcoming and approachable. I think this enhances the visitor’s experience.  This continually creates a niche for opportunities amongst existing and new hospitality concepts which attracts investments and favorable businesses for the economy. I would also like to see more local talent venturing into the hospitality industry in the coming years. I personally would request other hospitality operators to initiate and implement programmes whereby local talent can get opportunity so more jobs can be created in this sector.

Over the years, what has been your most memorable experience as a hospitality professional?

Sumeet: Over 20 years now, I have worked at many 5-star hotels and luxury properties in the US, Australia and the Middle East with over 70 nationalities, learned different languages which helped me understand and experience different cultures, evolving as a Global citizen. It’s difficult to pin down one experience as each venue has been unique in its own way. The overall experience of the skills I learned while working in hospitality has not only translated perfectly to what I do now. They have been instrumental in helping me find success in operating the business. With my experience, I can definitely say that hospitality is not for the weak hearted as you will never have a dull day! 

Where would be your ideal vacation destination?

Sumeet: I have two favorites; the high altitudes for the beautiful scenery, majestic mountains, and clean air to enhance the energy flow in the body for the whole year-round; and the sunny beaches for a good boost of Vitamin D. 

What is your favorite book?

Sumeet: There’s too many, but one that comes up in mind is ‘Setting Up the Table’ by Danny Myers.

What car do you drive?

Sumeet: I generally like to change my car every year, but currently, I’m driving an Audi A6.

What advice do you have for people who are considering joining the capital club but haven’t entirely made up their minds?

Sumeet: We distinguish ourselves with exclusivity and privacy.  It’s an exclusive club, and over the past decade, we have engaged with eight different business sectors and have constantly been expanding our reach through the wealth of the capital club network and its unparallel benefits. We will be expanding in 2020 with three new clubs, so we are eager to invite everyone to become part of the Capital Club today and enjoy our array of perks and benefits tomorrow.

What advice do you have for young professionals who are eager to enter the hospitality sector?

Sumeet: Hospitality, in general, is a demanding business which requires one to be resilient, passionate and persevere in their goals and be driven 365 days a year. One should put their heart and soul in what they do. Furthermore, learn and get inspiration from industry leaders, and don’t expect quick results. 

In line with Capital Club Bahrain’s remarkable milestone in the hospitality sector, we also managed to have a brief chat with the Assistant Director of Membership, Fatima Ebrahim, who witnessed the club’s 10-year growth in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

So, Fatima, you’ve been a part of Capital Club for quite some time now and have grown your career here. How did the membership of the club evolve this past decade?

Fatima: I started my hospitality career with Capital Club Bahrain as a Membership Coordinator and have grown with the company. Today, I serve as the club’s Assistant Director of Membership. Over these ten years, I’ve seen the club grow and evolved as a ‘Premier Private Business Club,’ and I take immense pride in being part of an institution of this caliber. We are 950 Members to date from Bahrain and KSA (Eastern province), and we are still growing strong. We have clear plans and goals outlined for 2019 whereby we will add value to our memberships by connecting businesses across GCC and also by adding more bespoke lifestyle benefits for our Members.  

What’s your take on transitions in the neighboring country and how has that affected Club’s membership?

Fatima: I am a strong advocate of women empowerment, and as someone who embraces positive changes, I feel the recent transitions in KSA has encouraged women to be more independent by allowing them to play a more significant role in economic and social diversification. I do believe that KSA has massive potential. I was honored to meet some of the most influential Saudi Businesswomen and was truly amazed by their educational background, passion, and vision. Indeed, our membership and number of other sectors will also benefit from women’s participation. We focus on creating business opportunities within the regional and international business leaders as well as senior executives through our 270 clubs’ network, and these changes will add value to their memberships.

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