If Phyllis Wasn't Here, I Don't Know if I Would be

May 13, 2013


Phyllis Hester
Phyllis has guarded my door for 25 years
I’ve known Phyllis Hester for 45 years.  The first 20, we went to church together.  The last 25 were as my executive assistant guarding the entrance to my office.  She’s one of this year’s recipients of Marriott’s “Awards of Excellence,” our top honor.  Let me tell you a couple of stories about her. 

Number one, she’s fabulous.  She gets to the office before eight, leaves after five and eats lunch at her desk in spite of my encouraging her to go to the cafeteria or someplace else.  She’s a marvelous anticipator, and that’s a quality every person needs when working for a demanding boss like me.  She knows what my needs are, she anticipates them, she takes care of them, and half the time I don’t even know what has happened.  We’re in sync, and it makes for a terrific partnership. 

Another wonderful quality is how Phyllis handles customers.  Phyllis answers all of the customer calls and some of them can be a handful.  She never wants calls to go to voicemail until after 5 p.m.  Phyllis believes that anyone who calls this office should talk to a human.  This old-fashioned way of doing things carries over to how she runs the office.  I admit to not knowing how to type.  Phyllis types my schedule on notecards.  (Yes, we have IBM typewriters on many of our desks.)  She uses a daily planner calendar penciling in my appointments, and no one is more efficient than Phyllis.

I’ve told this tiny woman from the mountains of southern Virginia that she sometimes strikes fear in people.  A phone call or email from Phyllis Hester is instantly returned.  I don’t even get that kind of response myself!  She keeps all of us on the straight and narrow in the best possible way.


CNN Interview
A rare media appearance by Phyllis last year
Few people know that Phyllis appeared on CNN last year.  A crew came by the office to interview me.  I was asked why I was stepping down and told the interviewer that the business was getting too complicated.  Later, when the crew was shooting b-roll, Phyllis added, “Well, it’s your own fault, Mr. Marriott.  You made it that way.”

What can I say?  When she’s right, she’s right!

Phyllis, you’ve made a major impact on my life and on our business.  It’s been a real blessing having you in my life as my assistant for 25 years.

I’m Bill Marriott and thank you, Phyllis, for helping me keep Marriott on the move. 

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Congratulations on your Excellence Award and wonderful comments by Mr. Marriott. I am so glad to see you get the recognition you deserve. You keep everything flowing so well and don't expect any applause. Well,your time has come! It has been a pleasure to know you.

Anne Marie Begley, RN

Congratulations! I know what its like to have a Phyllis! For many years i was supported by someone like her and she made my job 100X easier. She anticipated problems, solved problems and knew what i needed to respond to and how to reduce the noise. When i was promoted and required to move overseas i tried every way i could to keep her with me...alas..that was not to be....now every new assistant is judged by the high standard set by Sharon my own Phyllis. Every year I gave Sharon a percentage of my personal annual bonus to let her know that being a team was more than just chat and how much i counted on her!
Congratulations on her success and to Bill Marriott for having the good sense to hire her in the first place!

Phyllis is a wonderful assistant. I have always enjoyed hearing from her. She is on top of every detail. She has truly been a major contributor to the success of this company for many years. Thank you for all you do every day!

I love reading your blogs when I can, Mr. Marriott. I was very impressed reading about your assistant, Phyllis Hester, and that you have credited her to much of your success. Because I work specifically with The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Guest Services Desk, and The Ritz-Carlton Hotels, I greatly appreciated her "anticipatory" talent. "Anticipating one's needs" is also a quality I have been trying to teach my boys at home. It makes life so much better. Thank you again.

What a lovely story and tribute to Phyllis. I, too, come from an "old fashioned" way of doing things and would give my eye teeth to have an IBM typewriter at my desk!

As an admin for the past 15 years, with the last 1.5 years at Marriott, it's wonderful and refreshing to see an admin get public thanks and credit. Phyllis, you seem like an amazing woman!

Admins and assistants work very hard, often with little recognition. Many people have no idea what we do behind the scenes on a daily basis. Unfortunately the sterotype of chewing gum and painting our nails while gabbing on the phone is still alive and kicking -- and couldn't be farther from the truth.

I often get asked (even by my own family!) why I'm happy still being "just a secretary." The answer is right there in the question - I'm happy! There's no "just" about it. On the flip side, I've often been told (by the same people) that they could really use someone like me in their office, or that they'd be lost without their admin. I hear this same story over & over again from my counterparts.

Phyllis is an inspiration. I hope that after 25 years as "just" an assistant, I'll still have as big a smile on my face as she does.

It is always a blessing in life to have someone in your life who has your best interest at heart, via personal or business. Congratulations Ms. Hester.

Dear Phyliss ,

Congratulations !!!

What a great job ! What a great experience !! 25 years :) As I am doing the same job I was really impressed when I read the news this this morning .

I wish you continued success and happiness :)

Warm regards ,


In my few years of interacting with Phyllis, I couldn't agree more with the value she has added to the Marriott Corporation. Phyllis has been the consummate professional. She also serves as a role model for executive assistants everywhere. Mr. Marriott, thank you for treating her so well and appreciating her work.

Certainly appears to worthy of the accolades and the award. What a wonderful associate. Commendatioins to phyllis.