Name: James E.
Position: Senior Food and Beverage Operations Manager
Hotel: Sheraton Grand Seattle
Dream Destination: My heritage is Welsh and my wife, Irish. I would love to take my family to the UK.
Drink or treat of choice: I love an Old Fashioned. Simple and classic.
For many of us, there’s no better feeling than seeing our loved ones’ faces when we walk through the door at the end of our workday. And for U.S. Navy veteran James E., that’s why he’s so satisfied with his job at Marriott.
“This position has afforded me the opportunity to be home for dinner most nights, which is a change from other roles,” says James, who joined the Sheraton Grand Seattle a little less than a year ago as the hotel’s Senior Food and Beverage Operations Manager. “Being able to have dinner with my wife and daughter is the best part of my day.”
James has had a few civilian jobs since leaving the Navy, where he served as an Interior Communications Electrician until the mid ‘90s.
“I believe it gave me a good balance of leadership and structure,” James says of his time in the military. “I like being with Marriott because it feels like family but has a military unit-like structure.”
In addition to appreciating the familiar organization of the company, James also feels aligned to Marriott’s core values, which are to Put People First, Pursue Excellent, Embrace Change, Serve Our World and Act with Integrity — that last value is one that James resonates with most.
“I will always be straight with associates,” says James of the importance of integrity. “I want them to trust me and know I am there for them.”
Get a glimpse into James’ typical day inside Marriott’s Food & Beverage department, plus more insight as a veteran working in hospitality.
How does your workday start?
I usually get in around 7:30 AM. I stop at the breakfast buffet and Starbucks to check in with my teams.
What’s one thing you do to ensure you have a successful or productive day at work?
Checking in with my associates first thing is important. They know I am here, and I can see firsthand what their day is like and what challenges they may have had. For example, last week, there were two days when Starbucks was missing someone, and they were busy. I am not great as a barista, but I can work the ovens all day long. So, seeing the business firsthand can tell me if I am needed, or if I can deploy other associates in other areas to help those in need. Is our Club Lounge busier than our breakfast buffet? Maybe I need to move people around. That is a big part of the walk.
What does your lunch break look like?
I often sit with other leaders in the hotel, like the GM, Hotel Manager, and fellow department heads. While we have meetings in the morning, lunch is a great time to talk about what’s happened that day, across the hotel. Also, I’ve known many of the managers for a few years, and it’s nice just to catch up.
What’s communication like with your manager or leadership?
In most restaurants, the immediate supervisor isn’t also on the property, so there could be a lag in getting answers to questions. However, that’s not a problem here — my leaders are always accessible, at any time.
How does your day end?
I make a final pass to all of my outlets to see if anyone needs anything — like if the bartenders from the night before forgot to request liquor from Receiving, and the associates don’t have a key. This is also my chance to get information firsthand about the previous night (or nights). Then, I check out with my managers, and head to the bus stop.
Do you have any advice for Veterans looking to pivot into hospitality?
I like being with Marriott because it feels like family but has a military unit-like structure. That being said, I’ve found that you can’t bark orders in a military manner — you have to change how you deal with fellow associates and your teams.