A spotlight on Umang Gandecha

Tell us a bit about your role and how it supports the business?

Being the Head of Sales at Londonist, I am responsible for the international growth of the company. My role is to ensure all the team are developing and progressing their careers as well as hitting their targets.

My role has also been to expand the portfolio of Londonist across London and since 2018, we have expanded from 12 locations to now over 45 central locations in London. I am excited for the future plans of Londonist and our global expansion to wider markets.

What has been your career highlight to date?

My career highlight to date has been setting up the Londonist DMC office in Shanghai. Having lived in China for  over three years, it has always been my dream to open an office in a country which has vast potential for business.

I am happy to say as of today, Londonist has 10 Chinese offices of which 4 are based in Shanghai.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

I was told about the 3 c’s in life, and I have always tried to live my professional career like this: choice, chance and change. You just make the choice to take the chance if you want anything to change in life. With this motto and a great team at Londonist I have been able to realise a chance that changed my life in a positive way.

If you were not working in this sector what other industry would you have pursued a career in?

As a pipedream when I was a little boy, I always dreamed of being a Bollywood movie star. But realistically I have always loved sales, coming from a family who have always done international business with global import and export. However, I have always wanted to work in an industry where I would be working with people and Londonist has become the perfect fit for me.

What is coming up for your company in the next 12/18 months?

The main emerging trend I have found within the student accommodation sector post covid is that more students and parents are looking for private studios compared to shared en-suite rooms. With most of our allocation being studio rooms, we have manged to take advantage of this demand.

Many international students are still concerned about wellbeing, mental and physical health. Before the pandemic hit, Londonist launched our online Student Portal which gives students access to online events and mental health support for example which has become a vital topic within the sector now.

As an association what one thing do you think we have done that has made a real difference to our members during the crisis?

At Londonist, we found the weekly updates extremely useful and every insightful and we shared these with our global offices. During the crisis, there was a lot of news going around but there was not one place where there were updates on the industry.

Covid-19 has had a huge impact on our industry, what is the one thing that you have learnt personally or professionally during this time?

Personally, I have learnt during this difficult period is that if you really want to do something, you will find a way and if you don’t you will find an excuse. I have personally learned that you will never control your future if you let your present be controlled by your past.

Professionally, I have learned that it is so important to encourage and trust your team members and colleagues. Being surrounded by a team who push you daily to be better, set higher goals and give out a positive energy is so important in a working environment.

How do you think Covid-19 will change our industry (if at all)?

I believe the Covid-19 pandemic has bought our industry much closer together. Our industry is close-knit community already, but the pandemic has made partners who are all in the same boat appreciate and understand the importance. At Londonist, we have become a lot more flexible with partners in terms of bookings, cancellations, and postponing check-in dates without extra costs for example.

This has also come with big opportunities with higher applications volumes support a rise in total university enrolments, subsequently leading to more students coming to the UK. Of course, all global companies have been impacted by the pandemic but with the nature of our industry and business, we are already well on the road to recovery.

Find out more about BETA Member Londonist here

Published 1st December 2021