Hotel chain OYO hires management consultants for top international posts

11 January 2019 Consultancy.asia

Hospitality start-up Oyo has turned to a trio of former management consultants to head up its expanding country operations, with key hires Ming Luk Tan in Malaysia, Jeremy Sanders in the UK, and Andrew Verbitsky as Head of Europe.

Founded in just 2013, Oyo has since grown to become India’s largest hospitality group, operating in more than 200 cities across India with a network of 8,500-plus hotels – through a disruptive platform model of hotel branding combined with an online booking app. Now the company has set its sights on the rest of the world, with founder and CEO Ritesh Agarwal recently declaring that by 2023, Oyo “will be the world’s largest hotel chain.”

The 24-year-old promptly backed that claim by raising $1 billion in investment from SoftBank, Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture among others, and with that backing has sent the unicorn on an aggressive international expansion – recently setting up or expanding operations in China, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, UK, and continental Europe and making key personnel appointments across the globe; among the latest, three former management consultants.

Ming Luk Tan

Named as Oyo’s new Head of Malaysia, where the firm has been operating since 2016, Ming Luk Tan joins after serving as the head of local of bike-sharing platform ofo, before which he led Axiata Digital’s Ignition Labs. Earlier in his career, he was a Senior Consultant with McKinsey & Company, spent three years as a Manager at Accenture, and kicked off his professional life with a five year stint at Ernst & Young, rising to manager in the firm’s business advisory practice.

Hotel chain OYO hires management consultants for top international posts

Andrew Verbitsky

On the other side of the globe, Andrew Verbitsky has been appointed as Head of Europe, with Oyo making an early push into Portugal and Spain. Verbitsky joins after close to seven years leading digital tourism and hospitality start-ups, first at Kayak as a Managing Director for Central and Eastern Europe, and then as a General Manager for Airbnb. Earlier in his career, over the space of a decade, Verbitsky was a practice lead for Deloitte, a manager at BearingPoint, and a management consultant for Accenture.

Jeremy Sanders

The pair of new recruits join Jeremy Sanders in Oyo’s international expansion efforts, who was named as country head of the UK late last year with a view to launching in ten cities beyond London in the next two years, including Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Sanders co-founded restaurant chain Coco di Mama, which he ran for over six and a half years, following a five and a half year stint as consultant with Bain & Company in London.

A background in management consulting is of course not that uncommon in the entrepreneurial world – indeed, one study in the Middle East found that more than a third of the region’s top tech start-up founders came via the management consulting sector – but for Oyo there may be an additional factor in seeking out consulting experience among its senior leadership; Oyo’s Chief Operating Officer Abhinav Sinha is an alumnus of Boston Consulting Group, where he was a Principal for nearly five years in the US before joining the hospitality start-up.

With operations already underway in Nepal, Malaysia, and China – where Oyo has stated it will invest the bulk of its recent financing at around $600 million – and its most recent country launch in Indonesia, Oyo’s next stop is the Philippines, with further Southeast Asian launches in the pipeline this year including Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand. The company has also been running a pilot in Japan, looking to officially launch in the next three or so months.

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