Operator, developer, financier, brand manager, politician
I work on assignments where invariably, the client wants a leader that is equal parts operator, developer, financier, brand manager and politician. I usually tell them Clark Kent has a night job.
The more interesting aspect of my work is helping the client decide which part is more or less important.
- Most hotel companies are in the operating business, so great operating skills are a must. It is critical that a hotel leader be conversant in operating fundamentals. Otherwise, field personnel won’t respect the new leader and, in fact, may undermine him/her.
- Most hotel companies are also in the real estate business with maximum returns on exit. ROI is what drives the business. Pure operators don’t always understand the fundamentals of the real estate business. Operators also don’t always know their way around the balance sheet.
- Many hotel companies are public or have sophisticated owners such as private equity firms. Likewise, finance and transactional expertise is usually critical. Sound strategy is what drives successful companies, and the capital stack must be handled effectively.
- Many hotel companies are brand organizations, and brand integrity is of absolute importance. The brand is what is most meaningful to customers. Brands can take years to build but can also be torn down in days in today’s world.
- Political and leadership savvy are also critical to the success of a hotel executive. Being able to build consensus and communicate a common vision can attract the right players or drive them away.
Given all these truths, it is no wonder it’s tough to find a new CEO or any other C-suite executive. And since Superman doesn’t exist in the real world, a terrific human being with strengths and weaknesses will have to do.