What initially inspired you to get into the hospitality business? This is such a great question for hospitality leaders because so many of us didn’t know we were destined for a career in hospitality. When I was in college, my brother got engaged. As we were planning the wedding, I had the opportunity to meet the catering director at the Marriott in San Antonio, Texas, who showed me the hotel and educated me on the business. I was hooked! I changed schools, and my major, and never looked back.
Who were some of your mentors or role models, male or female, and what were their most valuable lessons? My role models were definitely my parents, who always supported my ambitions. I have also been fortunate to work with some amazing mentors. Too many to mention, but there are a couple that come to mind. John Longstreet taught me the value of community in business. [Spire CEO] Chris Russell taught me to surround yourself with great people, set goals, work hard, lead with your heart, and continue to challenge yourself every day.
In your opinion, how is the lodging industry doing in terms of getting women into leadership positions? One of the things I love most about our industry is that both men and women can be successful at all levels, and there are so many different jobs within the industry that attract a very diverse work base, which is amazing.