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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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More Lessons From A Car Guy

Posted:02/20/2012 2:08 PM

After nearly 40 years as a CEO at Marriott, I love to read about how others lead.  Recently, I blogged about Bob Lutz's new book "Car Guys vs. Bean Counters," which has many lessons from his tenure with General Motors. Bob Lutz

My 13-year service on the GM Board ended about a year after Bob came aboard.  But I've watched and admired him from afar.  General Motors has weathered some tough times lately and I found Bob's commentary about the problems that they have faced as powerful.  So I shared copies of his book with my senior leadership team.

The great concern I have, as a leader of a large corporation, is the risk of losing sight of the customer and their needs.  All too often big corporations think they know all the answers and become arrogant and inward focused. 

Bob understood that.  He had a gut instinct for focusing on the customer.  For example, at my first board meeting with General Motors, one of their senior leaders informed me that Cadillac was such a strong, wonderful brand there was no need to spend much money enhancing the design or improving the new cars.  When Bob came on board, he paid a lot of attention to Cadillac, which is once again the standard of luxury cars around the world.

In his book, Bob stresses the need to follow your instincts and rely on your own experience in making big business decisions.  He recognizes that there is a place for detailed financial analysis, spread sheets and power point presentations.  But they should never be the driving force guiding the company.

Bob Lutz's Book

Before he came to GM, Bob was a Marine Corps pilot and served in a Marine attack squadron at U.C. Berkeley.  He described a change of command when the squadron was taken over by a modest, humble Lieutenant Colonel who received a battlefield promotion in WW II. 

His name was Art Bauer and his day job was Hose Man #2 at the San Francisco Fire Department.  The squadron was composed of ambitious graduate students at Cal and Stanford who were shocked that such an uneducated man would be their commanding officer.  After the Change of Command ceremony, Colonel Bauer called his 20-odd junior officers together and gave the following talk as Bob Lutz remembered it.  

Colonel Bauer said: “I’m going to stay out of your way because you are all more capable than this old officer.  I don’t expect you to respect me for my flying ability, because it’s not at your level.  But I do want and demand your support and respect.  Not for me, but for the uniform I wear and the rank that is on it. You gentlemen, not I, are going to run this squadron and I don’t want you to let me down.”

Bob Lutz said the doubts and snickering soon stopped.  And, in 18 months Bauer’s squadron was rated number one in the entire Marine Corps Reserve.

Bob wrote that in leadership, as in all things, less is often more.  I hope that as time passes, Marriott leaders will remain faithful to a management style of humility and accountability, like Bob Lutz learned from his old squadron commander and from the mistakes that he witnessed at General Motors.

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

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Lessons of a Soda Jerk

Posted:01/17/2012 2:44 PM

My very first job was a soda jerk and that taught me a lot about customer service.  It was very busy, especially on the weekends. Filling orders in a timely way was a challenge and great fun.  I was thrown into the front lines and was stuck many times. When I got behind, it took a long time for me to build a banana split. This was back in 1952 at our Hot Shoppes Restaurant in Silver City, Utah.  I worked as a soda jerk while I was a student at the University of Utah.  Hot Shoppes counter

My dad would often come out to Utah and check on our restaurant.  He'd check on everything.  He was so detailed oriented.  It wasn’t often expressed back then, but he was very “hands-on.”  From the company’s founding in 1927, he believed in an unrelenting commitment to meet customer needs.  That core value is one of the bedrocks of our corporate culture.  Everything my father did was based on listening to the customers and giving them what they wanted.

Today, Marriott has grown to about 300,000 associates working in nearly 3700 hotels in 72 countries around the world.  Most of our associates come in contact with our guests.  They’ve been trained to listen and to try to give them what they want.  In our training classes, that important encounter is called a touch point or impression.  I call it good old customer service.  It’s the number one reason for repeat business.

It’s also important to thank our customers.  When I was a soda jerk, I’d add a little extra cherry or a little extra chocolate syrup to our customers' sundaes.  I knew if they got a really good dessert, they would return.

I did something this past year that I haven't done for a long time.  I threw a holiday party at my house for our global sales team and their top 150 clients.  I wanted to let them know how much we appreciate their business.  It was a small gesture although my wife, Donna, may beg to differ.  She worked very hard making sure the house was decorated properly and the food was great. HolidayParty

You can never lose sight of why our business continues to thrive and grow globally – it’s the customer and a culture of service that strives for excellence.  

So, no matter how large the business, listen to people.  I remember how my father would sit down and talk with customers.  Then, he’d go back in the back of the house, in the kitchen, and make changes to the restaurant menus or add something new to a hotel based on their suggestions.

At the customer appreciation party many customers told me that they talked to me on the phone when I called them on our annual customer appreciation day.  Many remembered where they were, if they were out of the office, when they received the call as a lot of them were traveling.  I told them in spite of my reassignment they would continue to hear from me in the future.   

So leave a comment on your favorite hotel experience.

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

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In Good Company

Posted:10/06/201112:18 PM

 

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To stay in business for almost 85 years, well, you know you’re doing something right.  To stay in business for this long and be recognized as one of the most ethical companies, that tells me we’re doing a lot of things right.

Ethisphere logo

For the fourth year, Ethisphere Institute named Marriott as one of the World's Most Ethical Companies, selecting us for engaging in business practices and initiatives that are instrumental to our success, benefitting the community, and raising the bar for ethical standards within the industry.  That’s great praise and we’re in great company.  

 

Ed Ryan, our general counsel, was invited by The Ethisphere Institute to join representatives from companies such as PepsiCo, GE and Ford in ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.  Through Ed’s leadership, “how we do business” remains true to my father’s founding principles.  

Marriott has grown from two employees in 1927 to over 300,000 today.  We’ve expanded from a nine-stool root beer stand to about 3700 hotels in 71 countries.  We’ve been able to do this because of our core values one of which is conducting business with integrity.  We believe that how we do business is as important as the business we do. 

Upholding high ethical standards is important to us.  That’s why I applaud all of our associates and business partners worldwide for helping us hold true to our values.  We’re honored to be in “good company” with the world’s most ethical businesses.

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

Click here to learn more about Ethisphere's 2011 rankings and methodology

 



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Blogging with "The Boss Man" - Our Summer Interns

Posted:08/08/201110:24 AM

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I started out at Marriott much the same way our young people do today.  I worked after school and during the summer.  It wasn’t called an internship back then, but I knew it was a great way to get experience and learn the business.  When I was 14, I stapled invoices after school in the Hot Shoppes accounting office.  

Summer Interns

Today, when walking around hotels and headquarters, I see a lot of bright, young excited faces.  A few interns are helping me post this blog.  They want us to add more pictures.  So we took a picture and wham!  It appeared instantly on one of their Facebook pages with the caption: “Hanging out with the boss man after recording his blog.”

They took a picture of the boardroom, too.  I don’t know why anybody would want that, but they did.  Long gone are the quiet interns who just put invoices together. 

While a majority of our interns come from hospitality schools, many don't.  I knew nothing about hotels when we opened our first one, but I was sure anxious to learn.   I certainly learned on the job much the same way our interns learn when they arrive at our company.  

Marriott Boardroom

In the coming weeks, we will say goodbye to our summer interns.  Hopefully, they will come away with a better understanding of how hotels operate.  And, equally as important, we will learn from the next generation what truly "turns them on." 

As “the Boss Man,” I want to say thank you to all of you. 

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

Leave a comment telling me about your internship.

 

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"Hands-On" Teaching is Key to Success

Posted:07/18/201111:17 PM

 

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When I served on the General Motors board, I had a chance to work with Bob Lutz.  Bob came on board as Vice Chairman of General Motors, primarily working on product development.  He’s written a new book, which has been covered in The Wall Street Journal.  The excerpts tell about how Bob came on board GM … found that their culture was somewhat stifling.  They had a lot of meetings, they didn’t make a lot of decisions, everybody was nice to everybody, but not much got done.  

Bob Lutz's book

Then he compared the General Motors management style with that of Ferdinand Piëch, the chairman of Volkswagen, who was an autocrat who ordered people what to do and they got it done whether they thought it was right or not.  

Bob then went on to talk about how he tried to put in a new approach to management at General Motors.  He said working in product development he got some cars in from the competitors -- some of the best: Audis, Toyota and Lexus -- took his people into the shop floor and showed them how to better design products for General Motors.  His bottom line was: it’s better to teach people and train people, rather than to order them around or to sit around and talk about this project without making decisions.  

His bias for teaching and training is a similar bias that we have had at Marriott for some 84 years.  We know that if we train and teach our associates, not only do they serve the guests better, but they also do a much better job of staying with the company.  They feel comfortable in their work, they feel that they have entered the ladder of success and can go up that ladder to newer and better positions.  

GM Flint Engine Plant

 

In my opinion, Bob’s on the right track.  Teaching and training is far better than sitting around and pondering and not doing very much … or being an autocrat and ordering everybody what to do.  

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

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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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Get a Taste for What it Takes at 'My Marriott Hotel'

Posted:06/17/2011 3:39 PM

My-Marriott-Hotel-Game When I visit our hotels, I always like to go to the kitchen. A clean, well-run kitchen usually means the rest of the hotel is also clean and well run.  In the hotel business, we call it "the heart of the house."  The kitchen is pretty close to my heart too, because that's where I got my start 55 years ago.  I was working in my parents' Hot Shoppes restaurant in Salt Lake City.

Not many people get to go behind the scenes of a Marriott kitchen, but now you can thanks to a new game we launched on our Jobs and Careers Facebook page.  The game, which we call "My Marriott Hotel," gives you a chance to run your own restaurant.  You get to buy equipment and ingredients on a budget, hire and train employees, and serve guests.  You earn points for happy customers and lose points for poor service and food.  When you turn a profit, you win!  It’s addictive.  One person reported playing the game for 36 hours straight. 

My-Marriott-Hotel-Female2 It's a new way for us to attract people from all over the world to hotel careers.  So far, in the first two weeks, people in 83 countries have played the game.

In some countries, parents want their children to be doctors and lawyers, and discourage them from pursuing careers in hospitality.  But we want them to know that hotel careers can be very rewarding.  In fact, about 40 percent of our managers started in hourly jobs.  It's part of our corporate culture “to train and retain.”

So, do you have what it takes to run a hotel restaurant? Try your hand at My Marriott Hotel and let me know.  I'm Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the Move.

If you're on Facebook, click on this link to play. www.facebook.com/marriottjobsandcareers 

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

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