Flo Cunningham – unexpected lessons learned
Flo was a contradiction of the times.
In the mid 1970s, the glass ceiling was very real in much of the hotel business. At the flagship 1500 room Sheraton Boston hotel, there were no women department heads, sales managers or executives at the time I was a management trainee. The few supervisory roles filled by women are often in housekeeping or the coffee shop . This was not considered unusual at the time.
Flo was transferred into the hotel from world headquarters, also in Boston. A take charge personality, she was strong willed and handled both public relations and special projects. By watching her from afar, I learned of how interaction was addressed both from and within a corporate home office of a large company. The support was sometimes appreciated, and sometimes appeared to be meddling. Flo was focused on achieving results and fitting in with others as appropriate, and I even recall she joined other executives in smoking the occasional cigar.
I was reassigned from Boston to Houston in 1976, and I had no further interaction with Flo. I do recall visiting the Sheraton Boston in the last five years and women executives and managers have taken their rightful place in positions of responsibility.
Flo’s example and persistence gave me insights as a trainee not to make first judgments on others too quickly and this lesson has remained with me my entire career.
Success does not come by accident or chance.
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John Hogan is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events. He is CEO and Co-Founder of www.HospitalityEducators.com , which delivers focused and affordable counsel in solving specific challenges facing hospitality today.
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