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Winning a White Hat award is an honour for any Calgarian, but to India-born SAIT alumnus Nitin Parswani, the news was exhilarating.
“It was a shocking moment,” says the Business Administration graduate. “I felt that I must’ve done something really good when I was nominated.”
Parswani came to Calgary in 2013 in hopes of finding a future in the west – a world far removed from the crowded streets of his hometown, Mumbai. His parents wanted to set Parswani up for success by giving him a good education.
“Initially, it was a struggle to get to know people and get acquainted with the place,” he says.
Parswani was determined to grow and make Calgary home. “I had come with the mindset that I wanted to do something better here.”
He enrolled in SAIT’s Business Administration program in 2013 at the suggestion of his cousins who were also alumni. From the beginning, Parswani made building networks a priority. He joined sports classes, social clubs and even ran for Student Legislative Council.
“I took all opportunities. I didn’t want to be constrained to my class. I wanted to try and understand what other international students were facing.”
Parswani’s community involvement came in handy at his part-time job at Best Western Plus Port O’ Call Hotel and his volunteer roles at the Calgary Food Bank and at a women’s shelter in the city. He loved serving and interacting with new people every day.
Parswani’s superiors at Best Western Plus noticed his dedication right away – in particular, his commitment to improving the front desk operations. He created an internal website for new employees that contained and simplified all the software information required for running the front desk.
“I wanted answers quickly, so I created links for myself.” Parswani then passed that information to new staff, a process that was later integrated into regular training.
Parswani’s talents landed him a position as the administration, accounting and sales coordinator for the hotel when he graduated from SAIT in 2015.
Parswani says it was an honour to be nominated in the “Best Back of House” category. A highly competitive category within the White Hat Awards that celebrate inspiring Calgarians in the tourism industry who go above and beyond to make their guests’ experience a memorable one. Parswani was up against staff from the Hilton and Westin hotels in Calgary.
When he was announced as the winner, Parswani says he was in shock – he almost wasn’t able to get up and receive the award.
“My family was extremely happy and proud,” he says. “I instantly called them and told them I won. They couldn’t believe it.
“It gave me a boost to know that I’ve progressed enough to get these kinds of achievements already. It gives me the motivation to move forward and ahead. I want to make everybody associated with me very proud. Not only my parents, but my superiors, my colleagues, my friends – whomever I come across.”
With this award under his belt and the respect of the hospitality industry, Parswani hopes to settle in Calgary – his home away from home. His love and respect for Calgary and Mumbai has enriched his life experience.
“Both cities have their advantages and disadvantages,” says Parswani. “Since I’ve had the opportunity to live in both, I can combine the best of two cultures to share with others.”
Written by Jolisa Tweedie, SAIT Journalism Student