Yours is an astonishing journey, from growing up in the hospitality industry, to striving all the way up to the C-suite as global chief commercial officer at Marriott International and becoming one of the most influential leaders in the hospitality industry. Tell us about your experiences and how we can encourage more women to climb the corporate ladder.
First, thank you. I grew up in the hospitality business and I’m now fortunate to work at a company that is widely recognized as one of the best places to work.
The advice I always give is two-fold: Have a true north that’s more about company outcomes and less about personal advancement, and take on the hardest projects—the ones nobody else wants to take on. The combination has a way of leading to bigger and better things.
Are there specific things you’ve had to overcome over the course of your distinguished career to really stand out and make your mark?
I’ve learned I’m most successful when I’m my authentic self. And I've learned not to fear failure or conflict. When taking on the most challenging tasks, conflict comes with the territory. It’s classic risk and reward—If you pull it off, it’s a huge win. If you don’t, you’ll still likely earn points for giving it a shot. Sometimes just stepping up, jumping in and powering through is enough to make a meaningful difference and get you on the right radars.
There has been much talk over the past decade about work/life balance and bringing your “whole self” to work. How can leaders help their workforce bring their best self to work personally and professionally?
I think there is a growing appreciation that it’s more about work-life effectiveness versus work-life balance. I look at it holistically and accept there are trade-offs. Mostly, I try to lead by example and deliberately prioritize my health and family. As a leader, it’s important to keep in mind that others are juggling their own priorities too. I’ve learned you can be both a results-oriented and empathetic leader. They can and should co-exist.