Kevin Jacobs ’94: An accomplished professional and inspiration to fellow Cornellians

November 5, 2014

The Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series (DDLS) brings prominent industry professionals to speak at SHA most Fridays during the fall semester. For 2014, students work in pairs each week to research, meet, and profile featured speakers, and then guest-blog here about the experience.

This week’s student authors are Tucker Iida ’16 and Tripp Plamondon ’15.

It was a busy and exciting week overall, as Mr. Kevin Jacobs ’94 returned to Cornell to speak in the 87th Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series. Mr. Jacobs, now executive vice president and CFO of Hilton Worldwide, said he had been looking forward to this weekend ever since Dean Johnson invited him to speak back in December of 2013.

Mr. Jacobs arrived in Ithaca on Thursday, accompanied by his family, and excited to speak with current students at his alma mater. Before he arrived, we prepared a research packet to help other students understand his background more fully. We enjoyed researching and reading about all of the exciting ventures he has pursued throughout his career.

Perhaps the highlight of Mr. Jacobs’s visit came the Thursday night before his lecture, when he attended a special dinner at Banfi’s. Also in attendance were his wife Amanda, his twin daughters Cate and Sam, Dean Johnson and his wife Jill, Professor Bruce Tracey, two MMH students, and five SHA undergraduates. We had a delicious three-course Korean-inspired dinner prepared by SHA undergraduate students.

At the dinner, Mr. Jacobs shared insights learned from his past and present ventures. Of notable interest was the topic of hotels creating more for their guests through the use of mobile app features. This topic has received a lot of attention recently as Marriott, Hilton, and other hotel companies are racing to install new mobile features for their properties. Hearing Mr. Jacobs’s thoughts and strategies for this new venture was exciting and fascinating.

Kevin-Jacobs-1On Friday, Mr. Jacobs delivered an outstanding, engaging presentation, detailing his background and career path, discussing Hilton and their recent history with Blackstone, and offering his advice for current students, among other topics. The feedback from students of HADM 1910: Distinguished Lectures in Hospitality Management was incredible. Afterwards, they could not stop talking about Mr. Jacobs’s inspiring, unique, and humorous presentation. He filled the auditorium with bright smiles and engaged students. He spoke about his path and how he got to where he is today. He was very humble, and we could feel his genuine emotions coming through his talk.

During HADM 4100: Hospitality Management Seminar, the students were able to have a more intimate and in-depth conversation with Mr. Jacobs. He talked to us about his time at Cornell and his future vision for Hilton Worldwide.

It was an honor to have Mr. Kevin Jacobs visit and speak. This was an amazing opportunity for the students, and they were able to absorb lots of knowledge and become inspired. We were truly fortunate to spend time with Mr. Jacobs, and the conversations we had during our Thursday night dinner were invaluable. We cannot wait to see Mr. Kevin Jacobs again in the near future!

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