An American Dream
By Riley Hutton, Managing Partner
This dream I’m referring to isn’t Yohan Vajifdar’s though. You’ll read about how worldly his experience is, living in exotic faraway locations. You might even fall in love with his accent when you meet him. The American I’m speaking of is me. It was my dream on July 4th, 2018, American Independence Day, when Yohan came in for his first interview. It was a memorable day. Yohan is one of the greatest people I’ve met, and I hope you enjoy learning more about him. What has followed since then, is a continuation of his dream.
Yohan chose a career in hospitality because of his interest in hotel administration. His father was a builder and interior designer in Mumbai, India, and worked for Hyatt. His father designed and built the Hyatt Mumbai. Yohan witnessed the hard work, perseverance, and labor his father put in, and his resulting successes, and this left a lasting impact.
After attempting to follow in his father’s footsteps, Yohan decided that engineering wasn’t for him. He was inspired by his father’s accomplishments, and enrolled in the Institute of Technology Management, with a Hospitality focus. In fact, his first internship interview was with the Hyatt Mumbai. He didn’t get the job, but he did get hired at the best hotel in Mumbai, The Taj Mahal. Yohan was quickly recognized for his talents and was voted Best Intern for Banquets, Administration, and Overall.
Yohan’s school was affiliated with the Queen Margaret University in Scotland. In his third year, he jumped at the chance to leave his home in Mumbai and to study in Edinburg, Scotland. Apex International hired him as an on-call server assistant while completing his studies. This is when Yohan discovered a love for food, beverage, and operations. This was a very special time in his life that he remembers with fondness.
“You live and work with your friends, you study. My whole life revolved around work, study, and play. It was a tremendous time in my life.”
After graduation, Yohan stayed with restaurants and began his career ascension. He still felt working in Hotel Administration was his future, but he found himself suddenly very successful in restaurant operations. After cutting his teeth as a server and bartender in Scotland, Yohan applied for a floor manager position. He got the position.
Honesty, professionalism, maturity, commitment, preparation, and gratitude. All at the age of 21. It was time to grow up after all. He had his plan, and now it was time to live it.
He met the love of his life, Jasmine and started a long-distance relationship in Scotland. Jasmine was studying at the University of Houston, but they found a way to make it work. They continued their romance for two years from afar. Yohan met Jasmine and her parents in person for the first time in December 2012 and returned to Houston engaged to be married. Yohan then began his American Dream.
Fast forward 12 months and one American Visa later, Yohan joined his wife in Houston. He worked at the Hyatt Regency Downtown Houston and finally got that job at the Hyatt. He applied for those highly desired Administrative jobs, but he found himself being pulled in to the Food and Beverage operations, again. He was beginning to realize this was his path. Once Jasmine graduated, it was time to move back to her hometown, Austin. It was in Austin that Yohan found his home. He also discovered that he enjoyed restaurant life much more than hotel life. He then began his journey to Truluck’s.
What does Yohan enjoy the most about his career at Truluck’s?
“The discipline, the commitment, the structure. Senior Leadership is connected and understands. There is a flat-line hierarchy. There is no fear. The corporate overhead and red tape are not there. The open-door policy is real. Do the right thing, follow the purpose, be the best at what you’re the best at.”
He feels Truluck’s is a good match for his best qualities: Honesty, self-discipline, dedication, and humility.
“There is no need for formal education to be successful in this industry. I’ve seen it first-hand. I’ve seen the busser become the manager, and the degree holder the failure. It all goes back to work ethic.”
Yohan feels he would be in a very different position in life had he not joined the team.
“All restaurants have their shine. The shine is similar everywhere. You can go and look for the magic, it is what and where you make it. Truluck’s is the place to be.”
Where does Yohan see himself down the line?
“I’m very happy and content. Opportunities will come. I will consider taking it. Right now, I’m happy with life as it is. I know I want more, but I can be patient. Your performance speaks for itself. That is what Truluck’s is all about.”
By now, you might be wondering how you can work under Yohan’s leadership. Well, here is what he looks for and wants all to understand when applying at Truluck’s.
“Be straightforward. They know what they are talking about. Looks the part. Has knowledge of hospitality and exudes professionalism. I know we can show them the Truluck’s way.
Not everyone has the same perspective. You have to respect everyone’s decision. Work hard. There is no substitute for hard work.
We are constantly evaluating. Both positive and opportunities for improvement. Feedback is given and received at all times.
Understand, we are all very connected. Culture comes in to play here. We overcommunicate. We deescalate. We work as one team. We do what is best for the business and the common good.”
Before parting, I asked Yohan if he had something to communicate to all. This says all you need to know about Yohan.
“For everyone to realize how truly lucky we are.”
We could not agree more.