Monday marked an important day in our nation's history, Memorial Day. While many of us grilled up some burgers and enjoyed the warm weather with our family and friends, this day honors the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country -- laying down their lives while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
I had the privilege and honor to serve in the Navy shortly after graduating from the University of Utah in 1954. When I was commissioned, I opted for the Supply Corps. My father was rapidly expanding our Hot Shoppes restaurant chain and was about to branch into the hotel business. I learned a lot in my two years of active duty that I've applied throughout my career. First was how important it is to have respect for the people who work under you. Second, I learned the value of asking good questions. The officers and petty officers whom I admired the most were never afraid to ask "how are you doing?" and "what can I do to help?"
I know I'm not the only veteran who believes the military helped prepare them for a career at Marriott. Our Vice President of Learning at Marriott Headquarters, Steve Bauman, is a veteran who's not afraid to roll up his sleeves and do whatever it takes to get the job done. "Very little was different for me in my leadership role in the military and the one with Marriott," he says. "In both cases my goal was to inspire a workforce in a common direction." Brian Schmidt, another veteran, is security supervisor at one of the largest hotels in our company, the Orlando World Center Marriott. He believes, "Learning how to work with different people and different cultures gave me the opportunity to be open-minded. That works whether overseas on a tour of duty or being part of this hotel team."
Marriott and the military have many shared values. Loyalty, respect, integrity, and honor are all words veterans use to talk about their military family. Likewise, Marriott associates describe our company as a family, and use words like values, respect and determination to describe their experience.
At Marriott, we value the strong leadership skills that veterans gain through their training and service. I'm proud that our company hires veterans. But most importantly, I'm proud our company is a place where people from all backgrounds, including military service, feel like they belong and have opportunities.
I'm Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.
This post first appeared on MarriottOnTheMove.com.