A Lifelong Passion

Josie Kilgore, Brand President, Cobblestone Hotels

What initially inspired you to get into the hospitality business? I stumbled into the hospitality industry by accident. What was supposed to be just a high school job turned into a lifelong passion for the industry. I started in housekeeping when I was 15 and was blessed with other opportunities to work in each department of the hotel and food and beverage. Even when I started college, I was going for something different, until one day it clicked this was what I wanted to do. At that time, I was working at the corporate office of our management company and was able to be a part of the construction and opening of our first Cobblestone location in Clintonville, Wisconsin. While Cobblestone was not what it is today, we had other managed hotels/brands, and I knew I wanted to be a part of that. The rest is history!

Who were some of your mentors or role models, male or female, and what were their most valuable lessons? Brian Wogernese, Cobblestone Hotels’ founder, and my mother, Laurie Kilgore, are my two biggest role models and mentors. They both instilled in me to work hard and give it 100%, whether you’re cleaning a toilet or on stage speaking. Even if things don’t work out how they are supposed to, pick yourself back up, learn from it, and move forward, but always hold yourself accountable.

In your opinion, how is the lodging industry doing in terms of getting women into leadership positions? I think the hospitality/lodging industry does a good job of putting women into base leadership positions. However, when looking across the industry, you do not see as many women in those C-Level roles, and I hope to see that continue to change in the future.

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