Many folks in the office ask me, “Why are you always dressed up in a suit and tie? It’s business casual here.” It’s true, business casual is the policy, and frankly, Friday casual is the norm in many offices. And that’s cool — folks should dress the way they want and in whatever works for them and is appropriate for their workplace. For me, it’s a suit and tie.


Well, a few reasons.

Confidence. When I am dressed up, I feel good; I even walk a little taller. Does that make my performance or interactions more professional or impactful? Maybe, or maybe not. But I know it makes me feel strong and ready to start my day. Do people take me more seriously in a suit? Do my words carry more weight? Do I silence any unconscious bias because I am dressed up? Who knows? In my role, sometimes I need to deliver a contrarian opinion. At those times, I like people to focus on my work and my words and nothing else. If I want people to take my work seriously, I need to look like I take it seriously, too. For me, that’s my suit and tie.

Presentation. In the hospitality business, how you present yourself is important. When I was a front desk associate at the Greenbelt, Maryland Marriott checking in business travelers, it was important to look professional. That’s what our customers wanted back then, and that’s what we gave them. It was part of the experience, and I wanted to deliver it for our guests. For me, that’s my suit and tie.

Being Prepared. We are very collaborative at Marriott International, and I love it. It also means that I could get called anytime to join a meeting with anyone up and down the org chart, including senior executives. I want to look my best if I get called up to discuss ideas or resolve an issue. A mentor once told me, “If you want to move up, start looking the part now.” I want to start looking the part now. For me, that’s my suit and tie.

It’s personal. I have three great kids, ages 15, 13 and six. Parenting experts say kids copy what you do and not what you say. I want my kids to see that their dad takes his job seriously, takes time to dress up and looks professional. For me, that’s my suit and tie.

This is what works for me. What works for you?

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Apoorva Gandhi is vice president for multi-cultural affairs for Marriott International. Gandhi is responsible for creating and executing an externally-focused global strategy that builds preference and loyalty from diverse customer segments for the Marriott portfolio of brands.

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