” …getting what you want is all about taking risks. Ask for more. Don’t be afraid to take on more. Be willing to go beyond your comfort zone. “
VP Distribution Services
My story is about risk-taking.
Like many college students, I started my hospitality career in restaurants: serving and eventually training. Also, like many college students, I realized restaurants were not going to be my life-long career, so I sought out an opportunity that would work with my school schedule. I found myself employed at the Accor Contact Center – at the time, representing Motel 6 and Red Roof Inns. I would be in classes by day, answering calls by night. It was different, it was risky, and within about six months, I got bored.
I moved into a department known as the “Data Team” (what we now call “Content Distribution”). It was different, it was risky, and it was slightly more exciting than answering the same calls night after night. I worked with that department for a few years.
I was surrounded by great people – amazing bosses, many of whom were women; women who leveraged my skills, or often challenged my skills with different, some might say “risky” opportunities. One of these women, Sharee Brell, who I still have the great pleasure of working with today, was looking to establish a UAT process. Sharee approached me with another risk, and I took it. For several years, I worked with Sharee to write business requirements and test new functionalities for our CRS system, at the same time, getting my bachelor’s degree in Web Design and e-Marketing from Franklin University.
After that, I was looking for my next big risk – a leap into management. A position opened up, and I took it. For some, moving into their first management role might be scary. For me, it was exciting. I honed every fundamental I learned from my amazing bosses over the years. I leaned on my network of role models and felt supported, even when faced by the most difficult challenges.
A few years passed, Accor sold Red Roof, some of my incredible bosses moved on, my role evolved, and I faced my biggest challenge at that time: laying off an entire staff. Change is hard – but I knew I had to take another leap. I moved to Red Roof as a Staffing Manager and helped build an entirely new Contact Center from scratch. Then I was offered my biggest risk yet: moving into a role I knew absolutely nothing about – Global Distribution Systems. GDS, OTA’s, content… all foreign to me. But I made a leap; I took the risk.
This risk put me on the trajectory for the rest of my career. I started with a small team of four, which grew to (pre-COVID) about twenty-five. As the team grew, I grew. I continued to move up in GDS, eventually taking over the Contact Center, in addition to Content and Connectivity. After much work and risk-taking, I am now the Vice President of Distribution Services for Red Roof – a role which allows me to continue to take personal risks to maintain structure for my team and the organization, at large.
In my experience, getting what you want is all about taking risks. Ask for more. Don’t be afraid to take on more. Be willing to go beyond your comfort zone. Be willing to move from one role or task to another. Yes, taking a risk can be uncomfortable, but if you can overcome the discomfort, and push yourself beyond what you think your limits are, new doors and new opportunities will open before you. They certainly did for me.