Marriott International CEO Anthony Capuano on Saluting Military Veterans on Veterans Day — and Every Day

Originally published on LinkedIn. Marriott International is a DiversityInc Hall of Fame company.

 

Just in time for Veterans Day, Marriott International was named on the Forbes 2021 list of America’s Best Employers for Veterans. I couldn’t be prouder.

It is my privilege and honor to work side by side with so many brave associates who served and continue to serve our nation, including my friend and mentor Bill Marriott, our Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board. Mr. Marriott was commissioned as a junior officer in the U.S. Navy in 1954 and served aboard the U.S.S. Randolph. There, he discovered that military service is a great training ground for hospitality – as he learned priceless lessons about leadership, service and teamwork. Mr. Marriott concluded his military service in 1956 and began a six-decade career in hospitality, opening the door along the way to countless other veterans who also wanted to transition their unique skillsets and experiences to the travel industry.

Today, as we honor and celebrate our veterans nationwide, I want to introduce you to a few former service members who brought their talents to Marriott International. I hope their stories inspire you and encourage other veterans to join us.

To all of our nation’s veterans, I salute you. Thank you for your service.

 

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Jerome Tennille, Manager of Social Impact and Volunteerism, Marriott International in Bethesda, MD.

Military Career:

U.S. Navy 2004-2012. I was a Petty Officer First Class, working as an intelligence specialist stationed on the East Coast. I deployed to the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

How did you transition out of the military?

A lot of veterans struggle to find meaning and purpose in their careers after military service. I started working in the nonprofit sector to support military families. That allowed me to continue serving my country and it led me to the next step – to become a corporate responsibility professional at Marriott International. 

What was a key moment that propelled your career forward?

I realized that I could serve my nation in and out of uniform. I believe some of the greatest positive social impact and environmental changes that we will see in our lifetimes will be through purposeful capitalism. Working as a social impact professional is another way for me to serve my country and my community.

What advice do you have to help other veterans succeed in hospitality or any field?

There is sometimes a disconnect between military and civilian life. Regardless of their career path, I would recommend that veterans look for ways to make incremental changes as professionals. I’m still transitioning and I’ve been out of the military for ten years. I’m still trying to adjust and communicate in a language that people universally understand and value. It’s a lifelong process and it requires that you have patience with yourself.

 

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Lorraine Katzer, Assistant General Manager Courtyard by Marriott Kansas City Overland Park Convention Center

Military Career:

U.S. Army 1989-1993. My rank was E-4 and I worked as a Food Supply Specialist, stationed in Germany and Texas. I deployed to Iraq during the Gulf War.

How did you transition out of the military?

I moved to Kansas City, Mo., where my sister was. I got a job in housekeeping at a Courtyard by Marriott, but I gravitated to engineering because of my Army background. We were expected to maintain our own equipment in the Army and I developed skills as a mechanic and electrician.

What was a key moment that propelled your career forward?

I kept advancing to different Marriott properties in the Kansas City area. I was an engineering supervisor, then chief engineer and then finally assistant general manager. 

What advice do you have to help other veterans succeed in hospitality or any field?

Teamwork, respect and integrity are all extremely important characteristics to veterans. I found hospitality to be an industry with similar traits. Just like in the Army, we act as a huge team at work — depending on each other to deliver excellent service. I would advise veterans to give hospitality a try.

 

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Mike Bills, Area Director of Associate Experience, Palm Desert, CA.

Military Career:

U.S. Navy 1988-1991. I was a Petty Officer Third Class, working as a Supply Specialist stationed in Concord, CA. I deployed to Iraq during the Gulf War.

How did you transition out of the military?

My wife, whom I was dating at the time, was working at a Marriott property in San Francisco. They were hiring for loss prevention positions at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis, so I applied and got the job. Thirty years later, I’m still with the company.

What was a key moment that propelled your career forward?

I worked for great leaders at the time who became my mentors. The whole company culture of promoting from within really resonated with me and benefitted me. I advanced from loss prevention to event services manager to eventually director of services (housekeeping) and then director of human resource operations. That was the first 15 years at the same hotel. Then I moved to become director of human resources at two different properties in San Francisco, then director of human resources at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa and then my current regional role. 

What advice do you have to help other veterans succeed in hospitality or any field?

A lot of people leaving the military are looking for leadership positions. Hospitality has them. Whether it’s engineering, loss prevention, food and beverage or more, we have so many opportunities for growth and advancement.

 

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Joseph Costello, Director Corporate Financial Strategy & Analysis, Marriott International in Bethesda, MD.

Military Career:

Maryland Army National Guard 2003-2013.  I finished my service as an Infantry Captain, assigned as a staff Operations Officer in Annapolis, MD. I was deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2007 to 2008.

How did you transition out of the military?

I resigned from my commission in 2013, and went to school, earning my MBA.  Post business school, I knew I wanted to be in finance. A good friend, also in finance, introduced me to my current team at Marriott International. I liked the team instantly; it seemed like Marriott was a special place with a healthy, productive culture. Similar to the military, Marriott’s culture is values-based, with an emphasis on the team and the success we have working together. That resonated with me.

What was a key moment that propelled your career forward?

Definitely, it was the opportunity to join Marriott International. I have had great mentors in the group who made sure my work was always challenging and interesting. Also key is the strength of the team overall. The standards are high, and I have been pushed to do more, better than I ever thought I could. 

What advice do you have to help other veterans succeed in hospitality or any field?

Hospitality is a great industry, where you can work hard and succeed no matter what your background. As a veteran you have a great opportunity, in the G.I. Bill, to get additional training in hospitality or any field.

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