Kareesh Manraj has been newly promoted as the Chief Experience Officer (CXO) for Restaurants Operations Company Ltd (ROCL) which groups the Ocean Basket, MOKA’Z and Savinia Bistrot brands.
All these brands are regrouped under one parent brand, Island Living of Rogers, a member of the ENL group. In this new role, he will be responsible to communicate the value proposition of the organisation using the customers' language, interacting with the customer through their preferred communications channels to ensure a positive customer experience. In the enterprise, the CXO oversees a team that monitors these interactions and assures that the company is adequately responding to complaints, concerns and suggestions for improvement.
Aged 33 years old, this father of a little boy and holder of a BSC in Business Management with specialisation in service quality in Tourism, will narrate us about his 7 years in the group at ENL Lifestyle, which has now been rebranded Island Living.
Tell us more about your professional path and growth in the ENL group?
I joined ENL Lifestyle as the operations manager for Ocean Basket and successfully contributed to its opening in Bagatelle, La Croisette and Phoenix Mall. I was involved in the development and operations of Savinia Bistrot. Recently, I was handed the Moka'Z brand to further develop and expand its operations. Under the leadership of Richard Stedman, CEO of Island Living, on the very first day, he told me to have the mindset of an ‘owner-operator’ and having the right attitude at all-time has helped me to grow and be successful in building a great team with good leaders with the right working culture.
Could you give us more details about the duties of the CXO?
As the Chief Experience Officer (CXO), I will be responsible for operational excellence and compelling customer experience for Ocean Basket, Moka’Z and Savinia Bistrot restaurants. I will also work closely with the senior leadership of Island Living to further the development and expansion of Island Living’s activities and projects.
To be successful in an industry you need to be surrounded by a very professional team. How do you view your teammates and how do you guide them to become more efficient?
Our team is very stable, competent and knowledgeable. We place a lot of emphasis on engagement and training. It is indeed very challenging to manage the new generation of staff as the culture, mindset and background are different. Our employees are the brand warriors and we need to engage them every day to be goal aligned.
If we can create a work environment where everyone counts and everyone is appreciated, we are on our way to success and this has been a clear strategy since Day 1. When you think about what you need to get done in your company, you know you cannot get it done by yourself. There is no way you can get something without taking people with you. We encourage our employees to live the brand.
We offer to our team massage, yoga, doctor, bowling, team building sessions, incentives for performance, we conduct the AON employee survey biennially, and the feedback we get is very constructive to increase the level of engagement. Our leadership must earn the team trust to enact “team behaviour” that is in line with our brand promises.
We are also in the process of providing dashboards to our people so that they can self-manage their performance. At the end of the day, it is all about our team in delivering a compelling experience to our guests for all brands.
You seem to be very passionate about your work. How do you maintain this level of engagement towards your work?
I am motivated by:
- Being part of Island Living and driving the operations and development of 3 reputable restaurant brands and get more responsibility.
- Leading a team of 160 people and helping each member to grow.
- Continuously learning to make the brands better.
- Ensuring compelling experiences so that people talk good about the brand.
- Deadlines and work well with a clear timeline in place. Meeting a deadline helps me feel like I have accomplished a goal and keeps me more motivated to continue to exceed expectations.
What do you do during your spare time or when you are on holidays?
My passion is to travel as much as I can, maybe one day the whole world. Some of the big reasons why I travel: The food, the people, the adventure, the culture and the beauty of places.
Do you have a secret recipe for success that you want to share with us?
Just like successful cooking, the ingredients make all the difference. In any job, there is a recipe for success by having the right ingredients and putting them together in the right way. During my journey at Island Living, I have learned and applied some principles which have paved the way for success:
- Clearly understanding and focusing on our targeted market segments
- Delivering consistent, compelling and valued customer experiences at all touchpoints
- Ensuring that all brand team are goal aligned
- Focusing on staff engagement, performance and productivity
- Get customers’ feedback, as much as you can, as the brand is owned by them
- Dedicating time to be up to date with restaurant trends
- Never be afraid of change as the world is continuously evolving
- Be a great leader, not a big boss
What is your best memory during your time working for Island Living and your ultimate professional goal?
The nicest memory since I joined the group was the day we served 1,200 guests at Ocean Basket Bagatelle. This was a crazy figure. We had to sit back, take a break and say what a day and how we did it was unthinkable. We just did it! My biggest dream is working hard to create a life where every day is nothing less than a dream!