Speaker: Ms. Helen Smith ’81 , Chief Customer Experience Officer
Helen Smith is British but moved to America for two years for the first time as a nine year old and was overwhelmed by Baskin Robbins and their 31 flavours of ice cream (in England we only had three). She grew to have a love of the American spirit of ‘let’s have a go and figure out the rules later’. Another big memory in her life at this time was her grandmother who’s mantra was ‘If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well’. Many years later she returned to America and attended Cornell as a Hotelier, graduating in 1981. It was a presentation by Issy Sharp during the ‘Brownies with Beck’ elective that marked a landmark moment in her life; his passion and vision for what was then the 11-hotel Four Seasons hotel company was all about resonated with her and she was determined to work for him. She was also incredibly fortunate, when a guest professor for the marketing elective lit a fire that has remained with her ever since.
After graduation, Helen returned to the UK and worked at the legendary hotel, The Dorchester (it was such an institution she was almost too afraid to enter the revolving doors for her interview), to then work for Four Seasons, London, then named The Inn on the Park; a hotel that regularly achieved 92% occupancy at the highest rate in London. That was a hotel that was very confident that it had got it right.
She later moved to open The Lanesborough as Director of Sales and Marketing and quickly set the market conditions for it to achieve its no 1 position in London. 14 years later, she returned to help The Dorchester regain its feet and reclaim its No 1 position.
Moving to the corporate office for Dorchester Collection, which operates nine of the most legendary hotels in the world, Helen’s goal has been to establish the Dorchester Collection brand and then to see that brand own a unique, lasting position in the ultra-luxury market.
Helen is married to a man who, if she asked, would get her the moon. She is part of an enviable closely bonded family and is constantly delighted to work with some of the best business colleagues one could find.