Analjit Singh, founder of the Leeu Collection, considers himself a ‘wanderer through life’ and first fell in love with South Africa, and Franschhoek in particular, when he visited the country during the 2010 World Cup. Here, he discusses Leeu Collection’s focuses for the year ahead, the company’s sustainability practices, and what course he would teach at university.

What is your story?

I’m a wanderer through life. I’m always looking for self-improvement and opportunities where I can make a difference to attain high standards and help those around me. I’m passionate, focused and outcome driven.

Explain who you are to the industry in a couple of sentences

I have usually been competition to most, but I don’t care what others think – I just stay focused on my pursuit.

If you have worked in countries other than SA, how is the South African hospitality industry different from those in different countries that you’ve worked in?

Overall South Africa is great but, that said, the regulatory regime is cumbersome and very frustrating time-wise. Plus, we face a talent deficit in the Cape Winelands.

What are some of the overall issues that you’ve seen affect the hospitality industry in SA?

Talent availability and seasonality, as well as the cost of attracting and training people in the Services sector.

What are some of Leeu Collection’s focuses at the moment and going into the new year?

Currently and for the next three years, the Leeu Collection is focused on the Cape Winelands and acquiring a hotel property in Cape Town, the UK, addressing the Central London Market and the Lake District. Our aim is to create a difference and a sense of place for our guests through our five pillars: comfortable interiors, landscaping, art and sculptures, culinary and wine. No gimmicks.

How do you engage your brand to the local SA market?  Any engaging media initiatives and marketing campaigns that you run?

Through a dedicated marketing and online marketing campaign – the campaigns are not copy and paste approaches, they are dependent on the exact location of the hotel/restaurant.

What are the company goals for future excellence in the local industry?

Answered above, but most important is to give every visitor a personal experience.

Let’s talk Sustainability and the steps you have taken to make a difference here?

We are extremely conscious about this subject and problem.  Some steps taken are as follows:

  • We recycle 94% of all our waste water.
  • Most cover crop in the vineyards and fruit farms has been changed from grass to chips, bark and clover.
  • Awareness regarding use of water for baths, showers, washbasin usage has been created.
  • Controlled changes of fresh linens and towels.
  • And, we also pray.  ?

How do you incentivise and motivate staff as an organisation?

By setting goals and rewarding them when they are achieved.

Trend Prediction for the local industry?

Visitors want an experience – money cannot buy experience, it is all about how you make people feel.

Analjit Singh’s Pop Quiz

If you were going to teach a college course, what course would you teach?

On the mind – the importance of taming and winning the mind, mindfulness, change orientation approach to life and impermanence, etc.

What is one truth you believe in that most people disagree with you on?

I believe most people are trustworthy. Most disagree.

What’s one assumption people make about you that is dead wrong?

That I have a temper. You don’t have to be angry to show anger. Sometimes you need to show anger to get the message across.

Who is your mentor/s and what recent challenge/s have you sought their advice for?

I seek inputs, insights from many people at all levels. It is unwise to have one mentor / coach. The world is too complex now – no one person knows it all.

If you could go back and give your 21-year old self a valuable piece of advice, what would you say?

Live life and take it as it comes. There is no one mantra. Keep focused on some core values and operating principles such as Act / The harder you work, the luckier you get / Be truthful / Help others / Move on / Accept failure / Be change oriented / Be secular / Don’t be afraid / Accept impermanence.

As you think about your career, who is a team member you had a huge impact on and what are they doing today as a result of your leadership?

I have quite a few team members in this situation. Many of us have grown together; I believe in interdependence.

If you could work on solving any problem in the world, what one problem would it be?

Improve trust amongst people and eradicate poverty.

What specific mental, physical, emotional and/or spiritual activities do you engage in to keep yourself operating at your optimum level?

Physically, I need to exercise more regularly.

What are you learning right now?

I am going through some interesting personal changes in my life. Through contemplation I am trying to remain calm, peaceful and myself. I have also embarked on a feeble attempt to learn some Afrikaans.