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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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World of Opportunity: Chance Encounters

Posted:02/27/201210:50 AM

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After 33 years with Marriott International, Nusrat Mirza learned first-hand how our company can open doors to a world of opportunity.

Nusrat Mirza

Nusrat’s story goes back to 1978, when he became a restaurant supervisor in one of our properties. Today, he’s the General Manager of our beautiful Renaissance Long Beach Hotel in California.

One day, after inviting his housekeeping staff to bring their children to work, Nusrat had a “chance encounter” with a young teenager named Mario. 

When asked what he wanted to do in life, the young boy confidently replied, “I want your job.”  Nusrat encouraged him to come back when he was older and like clockwork, Mario returned a few years later and was hired.  He’s now a front desk clerk known for his unfailing ability to deliver for his guests.  

One evening there was a mix-up when a guest thought she had reservations at the Renaissance, but in fact was booked at another hotel.  Mario reassured the weary traveler that he would help and, of course, quickly transferred her reservation to his hotel.  Way to go Mario!  

Nusrat Mirza with Bill Marriott

It’s great seeing a young person like Mario having success in our business.  He knew what he wanted and found a wonderful mentor in Nusrat. 

These mentorships take place at all of our hotels.  There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing an associate succeed and grow in their job. It’s the “Marriott Way.”

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

 

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The Year of the Dragon

Posted:01/23/201212:03 PM

ChineseHAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR!

MarHKSkyCityBanner

2012 is the year of the Dragon. Let the week-long celebrations begin. That’s right, an entire week of brilliant fireworks and colorful parades. It’s truly an amazing spectacle. Think Times Square – but a whole lot bigger!

Our Marriott hotels in Shanghai, Beijing and Sanya, will have ceremonies featuring Chinese drummers and Kung Fu artists. Food is also very important to New Year's celebrations. The Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott Hotel created a unique dim sum dumpling menu in honor of the Dragon.  Each dish is a work of art. 

Chinese New Year Coconut Pudding and Taro and Turnip Cake. 

Loh Hei Chinese Salmon Salad.

Pancake with pan-fried goose liver, sliced pork and chicken liver. 

Chinese-New-Year-Food
The JW Marriott Hotel in Seoul celebrates with Korean customs.  Marriott employees wear colorful Korean costumes and hand out traditional treats like sticky rice cakes. 

Marriott hotels are truly apart of the communities they call home.  Like the dragon that represents strength, passion and good fortune, Marriott has strength in its brands, passion in its guests and good fortune for continued growth.  Recently, we signed our 100th hotel in China and are opening one hotel a month during the next three years. Each Asian hotel opening has its own traditional celebration. I dotted the eye of the lion in 2007 when Marriott opened its 3,000th property, JW Marriott Beijing.   Dotting eye of lion - JW Marriott Beijing opening 2007

Later this year, I plan on traveling back to China with my family.   I’ll be 80-years old and I can’t wait to learn more about its customs and help promote tourism.  So, happy New Year to our friends in Asia. Good fortune to everyone.

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

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Monumental Courage and Conviction of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (originally posted for MLK memorial dedication Oct. 2011)

Posted:01/13/201210:56 AM

My parents founded our company in 1927, nearly 30 years before the Civil Rights Movement.  It didn’t matter to them who or what you were, you were welcome.  Back then in the South, here in Washington, D.C., this was a courageous move. But they stuck to their beliefs.

Boardroom Photo

Martin Luther King, Jr. stood up for what he believed in.  I'm still amazed at how he was able to change the face of not just our great country, but of the world.  His courage and heroism continue to inspire me. (Dr. King's portrait is in our boardroom with a note from Coretta Scott King.)

Sunday October 16 was the official dedication of a memorial to Dr. King.  I was really proud Marriott associates were among the throngs of people from across the nation and around the world.  His beliefs of protesting using non-violent means for social change are evident today.  

Dr. King’s speeches and sermons combined themes of democracy deeply embedded in the American conscience, and reinvigorated these messages with clear and insightful reflections on the true meaning of justice and equality. 

Although I never met Dr. King, he is such an inspiration that I was honored to serve on the Martin Luther King Executive Leadership Council to help make this memorial a reality. 

I encourage you to visit the memorial to experience more than a monument, but a place dedicated to honoring a great humanitarian.   

I leave you with one of my favorite Dr. King quotes: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”  

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

(Leave a comment on your thoughts of Dr. King.)

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Incredible India

Posted:11/02/201110:18 PM

India is truly an incredible country.  There’s something old and something new everywhere you turn.  It’s experiencing tremendous growth and our hotels are right in the middle of it. 

Most people’s impressions of India are not nearly as up to date as the changes taking place there.  They may have been formed in school while watching a long, boring documentary.

In an attempt to dispel some myths and stereotypes, our Indian associates took to the streets and produced their own mini-documentaries.  The things they do and the places they go … well, let’s just say they know where to have fun.

 

This “local knowledge” is important to our guests.  After checking in, guests want to know the top restaurant or the best yoga class.

So meet our talented, knowledgeable local hotel associates as they take you on a tour across the country to see their new India.  You’ll learn why the country’s tourism slogan fits:  “Incredible India.”

Click on the links below to view the grand openings of our newest hotels –Pune Marriott Hotel and Convention Centre and the Marriott Jaipur Hotel.  We’ll have many more hotel openings in the next few years.

Leave a comment.  I’d like to hear about your favorite India video or destination.

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

Pune Marriott Hotel and Convention Centre

Jaipur Marriott Hotel 

 

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From Herdsmen to Hotel Workers

Posted:07/05/2011 2:53 PM

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When we open the doors to a new hotel, we also open the doors to a world of opportunity for people who may never have imagined that they could work for a company like Marriott. 

Philip Papadopoulos

Philip Papadopoulos is the general manager of the Jordan Valley Marriott Resort & Spa and recently told me the inspiring story of how his hotel helped poor farmers and herdsmen in Jordan break out of the bounds of poverty.

Since it opened in 2002, the Jordan Valley Marriott Resort has looked for dedicated people to successfully run the 250-room hotel. They recruited associates from the capital city of Amman, but they also took a bold step to source employees from two local villages.

The idea of working at a resort was only a dream for those villagers who depended on the land for their livelihood.  They endured below-poverty conditions with family members living in one room, no plumbing, thin walls, and dirt floors on which they placed their blankets to sleep.

  

 

When the hotel’s human resources team reached out to these farmers, many locals questioned the wisdom of such a move.  But they soon found that a number of farmers were eager to work for the resort.  The hotel training team first offered them hygiene, grooming and etiquette classes. Then they taught them hospitality skills. And finally the farmers and herdsmen were offered English lessons so they could talk to our guests.  

Philip said the team went on to do even more for these associates.  For example, rather than discard used, but still very useful items like furniture, mattresses and linen, they donated them to the associates, who had little more than a ragged blanket, a few chickens and some sheep. 

The risk of hiring these villagers has really paid off.  Nine years later more than half the associates working at the hotel are from that same little village.  Philip says, “They come to work eager to serve, their shoes polished and their smiles wide.”  

I can’t tell you how happy I am to hear stories like Philip’s. I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.

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One on One with The Connection by SpringHill Suites

Posted:02/28/2011 4:43 PM

The Connection by SpringHill Suites I recently received a few questions from The Connection by SpringHill Suites, an exclusive online community of the brand’s most passionate guests. I’m delighted to be able to interact with this loyal group of supporters and thank them for being so enthusiastic about this wonderful brand.

Brian Earley asked, “If I had five to seven nights to spend at any Marriott in the world, which would I choose?”

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Mapping Marriott's Global Footprint

Posted:11/23/2010 4:48 PM

Cover of Marriotts Sustainability Report When I’m on vacation, I love to walk along the beach and look back to see the footprints I’ve left in the sand.  I know that companies can’t literally leave footprints, but all companies leave evidence of their activities.

Marriott recently released its 2008-2009 Sustainability Report.  It is a record of our progress and ongoing commitment to social responsibility, global diversity and inclusion, sustainability, being an employer of choice and our “Spirit To Serve” culture.

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20 Years of Helping Youths with Disabilities Find Meaningful Careers

Posted:06/03/2010 4:20 PM
Bridges Student Christina Alexion with Terry Bradshaw and Richard Marriott July marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, something our company has supported with all our heart and soul.  After all, we are in the hospitality business and we welcome everyone.

That’s why last night I attended a very special event we hold each year, the annual fund raising dinner in Washington, D.C., to support Bridges from school to work.  It’s a program that is run by the Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities and is chaired by my brother Richard.  The purpose of the program is to help young people with disabilities, ages 17-22, make the tough transition from school into satisfying and rewarding jobs and careers.
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I'm Bill Marriott, Chairman & CEO of Marriott International.

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