Five minutes with … Aliza Sofi, Head of Business, ZUZU Hospitality Solutions
Prior to entering the hospitality industry, Aliza Sofi worked as a Management Consultant at Deloitte Consulting Malaysia. After moving to Indonesia for a role as a Field Marketing Leader at General Electric, she was quickly inspired by the startup scene the country offered and joined Qraved (a restaurant discovery platform) as their Head of Business Development. Towards the end of 2017, Aliza took on a new role at ZUZU Hospitality Solutions, a technology startup that helps independent hotels increase their revenue.
Click.: What were the key moments in your career that defined your position now?
Sofi: I would say there are two major moments that happened in recent years. First was making the transition from a corporate company to a technology startup. This was definitely a key moment for me. It opened up a new world of possibilities for me and I almost instantly knew that this is the space I wanted to be in.
The second key moment happened about eight months into my role at ZUZU. The learning curve was really steep and intense during the first six to seven months. I started to feel more comfortable in my role once I hit the eight-month mark. That was definitely a defining point for me.
Click.: What has been your major success?
Sofi: As a business leader, I'm obviously proud of scaling up various businesses in Indonesia. However, I have to say one of my major successes has been training younger employees to develop their skills while providing them with the right tools to help them grow their careers and take on more responsibility at ZUZU. It’s really rewarding when you see the career and personal growth of your team members happening right in front of you.
Click.: What have been the challenges (and how did you learn from them)?
Sofi: I currently manage a large group of people with very different backgrounds and needs. I have the Gen Ys who have recently finished university and are just embarking on their career, along with the more experienced hires who have completely different expectations. The challenge lies in ensuring everyone is able to grow at a similar pace alongside the company’s own growth, without sacrificing company values and the culture that we want to instil.
Throughout the constant change, communication is very important and I quickly learned that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. We really need to adjust our method of communication to suit different groups. Some employees prefer to be communicated to in a very direct, unfiltered way whereas others may prefer a softer approach. We really need to be mindful of this and, as leaders, we should continuously try to improve on our own emotional intelligence.
Click.: What do you wish you’d known at the start of your career?
Sofi: I wish I had known that all I had to do was stay focused and just continuously keep learning and growing. Everything else will work itself out. If I’d known that, it would have spared me a lot of time spent worrying about my future and career.
Click.: What has been the most surprising moment of your career?
Sofi: When I first joined ZUZU, I didn’t realise how big of a role it was and I wasn’t mentally prepared for it. First of all, I didn’t have any experience in the hospitality industry, let alone revenue management. Therefore, I had to learn everything from scratch. Secondly, I joined the company at such a pivotal point where they were growing rapidly. Prior to joining ZUZU, I only managed a team of about 10 employees. To go from managing 10 employees to almost 20 and eventually have more than 50 people in my organisation as of today is really an eye-opener.
Click.: What one piece of advice would you have for someone starting out in the travel industry?
Sofi: A lot of resources, time and money have gone into solving consumer problems in the travel industry, whereas the business problems - whether it’s hotel or airlines - have not yet been fully solved. There is a big opportunity to solve problems for smaller businesses. For someone who is interested in starting their own business within this space, I would recommend working closely with the suppliers. By doing so, they’ll be able to identify the gaps and find the right opportunities.
- Aliza Sofi is the Head of Business at ZUZU Hospitality Solutions, a technology startup that helps independent hotels increase their revenue
- Prior to entering the hospitality industry, she worked at Deloitte Consulting and General Electric
- Aliza became inspired by the startup scene after moving to Indonesia, working for Qraved (a restaurant discovery platform) before joining ZUZU Hospitality Solutions in 2017