Name: Dan W.
Position: Sr. Director of the Quality Engineering Center of Excellence
Dream destination: The Maldives
Drink or treat of choice: Root beer floats!
What would be the best of both worlds when working in tech? It seems like Dan, Marriott’s Senior Director of the Quality Engineering Center of Excellence, has found the recipe.
“Marriott’s culture has elements of what I would characterize as both old school and new school,” says Dan. “There is deep respect for experience and tradition and at the same time, there is openness to new ideas and a fervent desire to leverage new technologies and processes.”
As a member of Marriott’s Global Technology Organization, Dan is responsible for software quality standards and tooling for the enterprise.
“We work closely with current and new software initiatives to provide staff, process standards and software testing tools,” Dan says about his role.
Dan joined Marriott in January 2022, and his first role in the company was as Senior Director of the Marriott Growth Program Quality Engineering (QE) group, where he got to learn about Marriott’s culture while building his new team from scratch.
“At the core of the company is a human-centered approach to serving our customers,” he says. “In many organizations, “family” is a seldom used word. At Marriott, it is used often and with a sincerity I have never experienced elsewhere.”
Learn more about Dan’s journey in his own words below.
You recently participated in AfroTech conference — how was that experience?
AfroTech was a great experience! I especially enjoyed the conversations I had with potential candidates. Many were surprised with how progressive Marriott’s technology base is and the direction we’re heading. I was impressed with the breadth and depth of their experience and enthusiasm. I also connected with some old friends and made some new ones.
What was your Marriott interview process like, and any tips for candidates who want a role like yours?
My interview was outside the norm. The recruiter was beyond cordial. We quickly established a professional rapport and I felt like she was on my side from the beginning. She sold me on Marriott as the place to be even before we discussed the job responsibilities. I recommend viewing a Marriott recruiter as an ally in landing a position and not as a gatekeeper or adversary. Be precise in your responses to questions and focus on key accomplishments and your unique contributions to solutions.
What have been the 3 biggest learnings you’ve picked up from your time at Marriott?
- Leadership at Marriott is obsessed (in a good way) with expansion of the Marriott brand and mastering the customer experience.
- Marriott is serious about staying technically current. You are surrounded by opportunities to expand both knowledge and experience.
- Hiring the right staff is critical. Look for people who are better than you and are eager to succeed.
How has Marriott supported your growth and given you the opportunity to try new things?
Marriott gave me budget and hiring responsibility to build a team from scratch. They supported me when I pushed for unorthodox hires and respected me when things sometimes did not work out. Building out the Center of Excellence is a new, long-term opportunity that offers new challenges and experiences.
What’s one thing Marriott is doing to redefine tech in the travel industry?
We are building the foundation environment to enhance travel experiences in a unique way. One aspect is the automation of many functions that previously required the customer to request or an associate to initiate.
Tell us about a challenge or exciting project you’ve worked on.
I had the privilege of building the Quality Engineering program to support our digital transformation from scratch. I was associate number one and built up the team to more than 50 people before starting in my new role.
Being on the ground floor of this transformation was exhilarating. I was often the only Director-level person in a room full of VP’s and it didn’t make a difference. My perspectives and insights were accepted as critical to the success of the program irrespective of role or title.
Describe a moment you felt supported at Marriott.
When a hurricane hit the Florida coast, an associate who lived in Fort Myers lost part of his roof, his Tesla, his computer and phones. My VP, Rajesh, called me almost every day to check on someone he had never met. This is what distinguishes Marriott, caring at the highest levels.
Describe a moment you felt like a part of a community at Marriott.
The technology transformation program IS a community. We are implementing a new way of working where one of the key features is called Program Increment Planning or PI. Each PI session requires everyone to come to HQ to meet in person and plan the next segment of work. This is a fantastic community-building provision.
How have you used the Marriott Explore Rate?
I used the Explore rate for a fly and drive vacation to the California coast. I’ve also used the benefit to visit family in Chicago and Jacksonville.