Women leaders in hospitality: Q&A with Kellie Cahill, director of sales & marketing, Hilton New York
This is the first in a series of profiles that will feature career advice from female influencers and leaders in the hospitality industry. If you’d like to nominate someone for a future profile, email email@example.com.
How did you get your start? “My first job was at a Doubletree in New Jersey at the front desk. What I love about this business is that you get to create customer experiences, whether it be an individual travel experience, to a large meeting for 2000.”
Having studied Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Administration at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, throughout her college days, “I worked in restaurants for the 800 required hours for graduation. I also travelled abroad for a summer to a hotel school in Leysin, Switzerland,” says Cahill.
What is your day like? Cahill oversees forty people. “I educate a group of talented events and sales team members. Social media, marketing, and sales execution are key parts of my role.”
To stay current with the tech aspect of her job, “I listen to podcasts on customer behavior, selling, and marketing. I have key words tagged on Google on my customers, competitors and relevant news.”
What are the challenges you face? Working within a business that’s open 24/7, “There is always something else to be done and never enough time to get to everything.”
What’s the best career advice you can give? Determination is a key asset in any hospitality career, and it has helped Cahill rise and thrive over the years, even in the face of setbacks or challenges.
“I was actually passed over for this exact job and one of my mentors was placed in the role. I continued to work aside her and learn from her and when she got promoted, I ended up in the job I was passed over for. This was the best decision that the company made for me, as I needed to continue to develop my leadership skills.”
What traits do you feel women need to be successful leaders in hospitality? “Passion for the business, desire to develop talent, and always questioning ‘is this good enough?’ Tenacity is key in this role. I have to consistently educate customers and work through their perceptions of New York as a destination.”
What do you wish you would have studied that would have helped to prepare you for a leadership role in hospitality? “Psychology believe it or not. I personally love understanding people. It would only better my ability to develop team members, strengthen customer relationships and understand buying behaviors.”