Rising to the Top: Hotel Career Paths

Labor was the most-discussed topic at the recent Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) held in Los Angeles in late July 2021, with hoteliers sharing ideas and strategies for attracting and retaining the talent needed to operate hotels as occupancy rises.

According to Marriott CEO Anthony Capuano, "Labor may very well be the most significant challenge we all face. We've got to invest in our people. We've got to remind them that travel and tourism is a remarkable place to build a long-term career.

"Our industry's future, our ability to deliver for our customers, will in large part rely on our ability to attract and retain workers from Gen Z. This youngest generation has a tremendous appetite for activism, and we have to show them how impactful a career in hospitality can be," said Chris Nassetta, president and CEO of Hilton.

HVMG's executive team is proof positive that the sky is the limit in a hotel career path. We asked some of our leaders to share their first hospitality jobs, and it's clear that hospitality is one of the only industries in which you can start anywhere (including another industry!) and rise to the top.

First Jobs in Hospitality

Ronald Mader, Regional VP of Operations: Restaurant busser

Suzanne "Zanne" Saunders, VP, Design & Construction: After working as an industrial engineer, my first hospitality job was working for Hyatt Hotels. I was part of the team that converted 100 Ameri-Suites Hotels to Hyatt Place in 12 months, creating a new brand. It may be one of the only times critical mass for a brand was reached in 12 months!

Mary Beth Cutshall, EVP & Chief Development Officer: Restaurant busser

Matthew A. Woodruff, EVP, Guest Excellence & Chief Brand Partner Officer: Bellman at The Abbey Resort in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Marcus Marshall, VP, Restaurants & Bars: Dishwasher/busser

Stephanie Bauer, Regional VP of Operations: Guest Service Agent

Maria D'Alessandro, EVP, Analytics & Chief Strategy Officer: I was a server at Bob's Big Boy when I was 16.

Cory Chambers, SVP & Chief Revenue Officer: Dishwasher

Andrew Pace, SVP, Business Development: Hotel owner with no experience!

We also asked what career advice our leaders have for entry-level/line staff that are interested in moving up.

Never give up, plan your course, and relocate when life allows.

- Ronald Mader, Regional VP of Operations

Always do more than what is asked of you so you are known as the person that always steps up.

- Suzanne "Zanne" Saunders, VP, Design & Construction

Learn as much as you can, and put yourself up for new positions for continuous growth.

- Mary Beth Cutshall, EVP & Chief Development Officer

Work in EVERY department and every position possible because you will appreciate those roles even more and have a frame of reference when speaking to associates.

- Matthew A. Woodruff, EVP, Guest Excellence & Chief Brand Partner Officer

Choose your mood. Your attitude will determine your altitude!

- Marcus Marshall, VP, Restaurants & Bars

Stay curious...ask lots of questions and continue to tell your manager to develop you

- Stephanie Bauer, Regional VP of Operations

A positive attitude in the face of adversity and a passion for what you do will take you where you want to go.

- Maria D'Alessandro, EVP, Analytics & Chief Strategy Officer

Be curious, ask questions, and take ownership.

- Cory Chambers, SVP & Chief Revenue Officer

Be excellent in your current job, learn about other positions which you are exposed to, frequently ask questions so you can take on more responsibilities and exceed the expectations of the guests.

- Andrew Pace, SVP, Business Development

Interested in exploring a career path in hospitality? Start your hotel career here.