Leaders & Influencers: 5 powerful women in hospitality you should pay attention to
Women comprise a minority of executive and C-Suite positions in the hospitality industry, as Peggy Berg, founder of the Castell Project, shared with HCareers in a recent interview. Nevertheless, these leadership positions are accessible to women as many hotel companies – both publicly traded and independent – include women among their top ranks.
Here, HCareers features a sampling of several women who are decision-makers at their respective companies, who have achieved success through myriad career paths and whose diverse business acumen epitomizes the various areas of the industry that are open to women.
1. Monika Nerger, the Chief Information Officer at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, is a company veteran of 12 years. She joined the company as vice president of technology, the Americas, in 2006 and was promoted to her current position in 2011. As her work for the company is global, Nerger is based out of Mandarin Oriental’s corporate offices in both San Francisco and Hong Kong. Last year, she was named to the 2017 International Hospitality Technology Hall of Fame and in 2016, she received the China Hotel Technology Alliance’s (CHTA) Most Valued Award for furthering support and identifying opportunities between Western and Asian technology suppliers in order to grow international solutions for the hospitality industry. She’s worked with Pan Pacific Hotels, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and KPMG’s Hospitality and Real Estate division. Nerger has MBAs from the University of Miami and Rutgers University, a BA in computer science and professional certifications from Harvard and Stanford Universities.
2. Fostering employee longevity is as fundamental to most hotel companies as building a loyal guest following. Lori Kiel, chief revenue and marketing officer at The Kessler Collection is a testament to the success of this strategy. Kiel has been with the Orlando-based hotel group for nearly a decade, overseeing all aspects of revenue including the group’s sales and revenue management teams. Prior to joining The Kessler Collection, Kiel spent 10 years with Lodgian where she spent her time with independent owner and operator of more than U.S. 80 hotels as the regional revenue manager for 25 properties. With an Associates degree in hospitality management, Kiel kicked off her career as the director of convention services for a property with just over 300 rooms.
3. A graduate of Cornell University Law School, Hilton Worldwide’s Executive Vice President & General Counsel Kristin Campbell has been practicing law for more than 25 years. She joined the hotel group in 2011 and heads a team of 50 in-house attorneys, focusing on the company’s legal compliance and government relations. Her work also puts her in direct contact with the company’s CEO Chris Nassetta and Hilton Worldwide’s Board of Directors. Campbell is also the executive sponsor of Hilton’s Women’s Team Member Resource Group, which supports the professional growth and empowerment of women at Hilton along with the company’s Women’s Executive Networking program and Women in Leadership Excellence Program. Collectively, the programs are focused on offering family-focused benefits and flexible working environments as well as closing the gender pay gap. She currently serves on Office Depot’s Board of Directors.
4. At Omni Hotels & Resorts, Chief Human Resources Officer Joy Rothschild is the embodiment of a successful hotel management tract. Rothschild first joined the hotel company as an associate in their Management Development program (later reorganized as Associates Services). She worked her way up the ranks, serving as human resources director at several individual Omni properties before becoming senior regional director and then corporate human resources director and finally, vice president of human resources before rejoining Omni in 1998 as senior vice president of human resources. Rothschild was awarded Omni’s President’s Award in 1992 for the development of the Omni Service Champion employee recognition program and the Power of One employee empowerment program. She is also a winner of the Hotel Sales & Marketing Association International’s GoldenBell Award and she has additionally served on the advisory boards of Boston University’s School of Hospitality Administration, the University of North Texas’ Hospitality Board of Governors for the College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism and her alma mater the University of New Hampshire where she earned her Bachelor’s degree at the Whittemore School of Business. She has also done post-graduate work at Harvard Business School and the University of Michigan.
5. Carolyn Handlon, executive vice president finance and global treasurer at Marriott International, is responsible for the fiscal health of the multi-billion lodging company. Marriott International’s financial strategy and analysis, financial risk management, global capital sourcing and transaction evaluation all fall under her oversight. She first joined the original Marriott Corporation’s treasury department in 1987 and was promoted to senior vice president, finance and treasurer in 1999. Another great example of how the hospitality industry nurtures its employees’ careers over the long-term, Handlon’s overall career path also exemplifies a diversified professional background. Before to joining Marriott, she worked for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation in international project finance lending in emerging markets. Prior to that, she was a commercial loan officer at Continental Illinois Bank. She is also a graduate of Virginia Polytechnic Institute from which she holds a bachelor’s degree in economics before earning an MBA in finance from Indiana University. Today she sits on seven Governance Committees at Marriott in addition to serving as a trustee of the company’s profit sharing program and as a member of Marriott’s Global Green Council. Additionally, Handlon is a member of Standard & Poor’s Issuers Advisory Council and the International Women’s Forum.
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