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Building Bridges to Opportunity

Posted:03/12/2012 4:06 PM

One of my core business beliefs is that great companies exist for more fundamental purposes than just to make money. 

 

At Marriott, we “open doors to a world of opportunity.”  That phrase connotes how much we want our associates to grow during their careers.   

Patricia

But “opening doors to a world of opportunity” also applies to the non-profit Bridges from School to Work program. 

My brother Richard runs this program and he’s developed a model that other companies should emulate.  Simply put, it takes kids with disabilities and helps them find a job.

It’s not so simple to execute.  Bridges employer representatives pull a small village together for every student -- teachers, guidance counselors, parents and employers.  Over the course of two decades, Bridges has placed about 12,500 young people with disabilities in jobs with more than 3,500 employers -- companies like Ben & Jerry’s, UPS, National Constitution Center, and Marriott Hotels.

This year’s annual dinner featured Lee Woodruff, wife of ABC News journalist Bob Woodruff.  In 2006, Bob was injured by an improvised explosive device while on assignment in Iraq. 

Lee eloquently described what their family went through after he awoke from a five-week long coma. Hers was a story of stops and starts … of persevering and overcoming. 

Alex

That’s our Bridges story, too.  Our Bridges students struggle to fit in.  They persevere, prepare resumes, interview for jobs and –- hopefully -- they get hired. 

Lots of moving pieces have to come together before a Bridges student hears the words “you’re hired.”  Stereotypes have to be erased; self-confidence raised.  Nowhere is ability an issue. 

As one employer said, “There should be no reason why a business should look at a Bridges student any differently than any other applicant.  The Bridges program means opportunity and not just opportunity for the students, but opportunity for the employer.”   

Bridges redesigned its website and produced a series of video profiles. (www.BridgesToWork.org)  The stories show the remarkable transformation in the lives of our Bridges students as they cross the bridge from school to work. 

I think you’ll enjoy meeting our Bridges students --Giana, Alex, Levi, Dana -- and see how they “fit in.”  Leave a comment on which story you enjoyed the most.

I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.  

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Living the American Dream

Posted:03/05/201210:08 AM

My family has lived the American Dream.  My father started out herding sheep and saw an opportunity and drove cross-country from Utah to Washington, D.C. to open up an A&W Root Beer stand.  That was way back in 1927.

Many of us forget where we came from, but not me.  I was reminded of all this when I recently received the “Keepers of the American Dream Award” from the National Immigration Forum.  The honor is what Marriott is all about: opportunity, no matter where someone is born.   Remarks

At the awards ceremony, I talked about the fact that 50% of our hotel General Managers started in the hourly ranks.  Those are the kind of opportunities our industry offers.   

I also talked about Marriott’s language training program called Sed de Saber, which means “thirst for knowledge.”  We’ve helped thousands of associates improve their English.

I know it’s more difficult than ever for people to realize the American Dream—whether it’s immigrants or native-born Americans.  That’s why I’m hopeful our elected leaders will start making some progress on improving the economy and the job market so they can also start focusing on other important issues like comprehensive immigration reform. 

I haven’t forgotten my family’s beginnings.  And after accepting this award, I’m going to keep doing everything I can to help others achieve the American Dream and open doors to a world of opportunity for our associates. 

I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.

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I'm Bill Marriott, Chairman & CEO of Marriott International.

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