The Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series (DDLS) brings prominent industry professionals to speak at SHA most Fridays during the fall semester. For 2014, students worked in pairs each week to research, meet, and profile featured speakers, and then guest-blogged here about the experience.
This week’s student authors are Benjamin Hearns ’16 and Taylor Meadows ’16.
This past week, we had the pleasure of meeting and engaging with a true hospitality industry leader: Mr. Ronald Harrison. As the global officer for Marriott’s Global Design Division, the 32-year veteran of Marriott International is responsible for overseeing the company’s design initiatives worldwide.
Throughout dinner with Mr. Harrison, we were in awe of his relaxed, yet intrigued, nature. He made sure to provide great insight on every question that was asked, no matter how great or small. He personally asked about our career aspirations and wanted to help us build upon our past professional experience. He showed his passion when he went in depth with Stephani Robson — an SHA senior lecturer in properties development and management — about his work in architectural and interior design, construction management, and procurement-related services for all acquisition, conversion, renovation, and new construction projects.
During his lecture, Mr. Harrison showed great modesty both in discussing his own career and when acknowledging shortcomings of Marriott International. Innovation and development were major themes of his lecture. He stressed the importance of flexibility in the face of evolving circumstances: “Adapt or die!”
During the roundtable afterwards, Mr. Harrison thoughtfully answered questions about the company, his career, and his family life. He took the time to interact with every student as he or she introduced him or herself, and he showed he truly cared.
After listening to Mr. Harrison that Hotelie Friday, we walked out of Statler Hall wanting to work for Marriott International and follow in his footsteps. All of our favorite Dean’s Distinguished Lecturers have truly inspired us from just one afternoon, and Mr. Harrison was unlike any other.