Name: Sharon L.
Position: Area General Manager
Hotel: JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort
Dream destination: Australia, Africa, and Southeast Asia, to name a few. I love Italy and want to spend more time there as well.
Drink or treat of choice: Maybe because I work on a tropical island, I prefer coconut water. I should probably drink more, because my 87-year-old mother drinks 5-6 glasses per day and her skin is absolutely flawless!
When Area General Manager Sharon accepted the hostess role at Allie’s Pantry restaurant at the Bethesda Marriott hotel in 1983, she only planned for it to be a summer job.
This past June, Sharon celebrated her 40th anniversary with Marriott.
“I did not originally plan to pursue a career in hospitality. I ended up majoring in psychology and was going to pursue a career in human resources,” Sharon says. “Never did I fathom I would end up working for the best travel company in the world.”
Sharon’s storied history with the company led her from Catering to Human Resources to, ultimately, her first General Manager position at the Key Bridge Marriott hotel.
“I have always felt supported by Marriott in achieving my career goals. When I interviewed for the dual-property Director of Human Resources position in Southern California, one of my interviews was with a female General Manager. She became instrumental in helping me navigate my career, as I also aspired to be a General Manager, and in seeing her, I knew that was possible.”
In her role as Area General Manager of the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort, Sharon oversees six hotels — all run by female General Managers.
“These ladies are truly exceptional leaders in their hotels, and I am honored to be working with them to assist them in achieving their goals.”
Learn more about Sharon’s 40-year Marriott career below.
Which of Marriott’s values resonate most with you?
Put people first. When I began with Marriott, I was moved by our founder’s advice to “Take great care of the employees and they will take great care of the customers and they will come back time and time again.” This simple statement is so profound that it had a lasting impression on me for my last 40 years with Marriott.
How would you describe your experience as a Marriott associate?
I truly believe that we are family. Each day, I am excited to come to work – the time flies by and I cannot believe that it is time to return home. I truly feel valued for my input and accomplishments.
Describe a moment you felt like a part of a community at Marriott.
I spoke to a few of our leaders prior to my milestone anniversary with Marriott and told them I did not want recognition; instead, I asked for them to coordinate a community service project that our associates could volunteer to attend.
I could not believe how they took that request and created “Take Action August,” an opportunity for each of our 1,150 associates to volunteer one hour of their time this month. It has been an amazing month so far — my goal is to volunteer at least 40 hours this month in honor of each year with Marriott.
So far, I have been involved in cleaning classrooms at a local public charter middle school in preparation of the new school year, cleaning school buses and organization an IT storeroom at Grace’s Place, preparing items for donation to Saint Matthew’s house, and working food pantries at Our Daily Bread and Harry Chapin Food Bank. Our team created a QR code so that it is easy for our associates to easily find volunteer opportunities, log their time spent, or report goods donated to any organization.
How would you describe Marriott’s culture?
Marriott’s culture is the foundation of our company’s success. We recognize that in order to be the best in the business, we need to attract and retain top talent. It’s about focusing on our associates’ needs and the way in which we focus on our guests’ needs.
Describe a moment you felt supported at Marriott.
On September 28, 2022, Hurricane Ian was making its way up the Gulf of Mexico. We ended up with a Category 2 hurricane on Marco Island. With this sudden shift, we had over 500 group guests staying with us as they ordered a mandatory evacuation of Marco Island. We “sheltered in place” with about 100 associates (and their families) staying with us.
After we lost connectivity and power, we truly were on an island. I was honored to work with the associates who worked almost 24 hours straight to take care of our guests. Our associates who work remotely in other parts of Florida and the U.S. became our phone bank and called every associate who was not working to make certain that they were safe.
Marriott’s TakeCare Relief Fund provided monetarily to support our associates in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. Our Marriott Business Councils reached out immediately to ask how they could assist.
This is what families do — we look out for and take care of each other.
What is your favorite part of the job?
I have so many favorites! I love walking the resort and connecting with our associates and guests. I love working with our teams to ideate experiences for our guests and locals. I love working with the Marco Island and Collier County business and hotel communities on improving our destination.
I love watching our associates’ children grow up and seeing many of them joining Marriott as well. I love watching the surprise and delight of our youngest guests as they find the “perfect” shell or build the perfect sandcastle. I love the awe of our guests as they watch nature’s paintbrush paint the perfect sunset. I love watching someone say “yes” to the perfect proposal or “I do” on the beach with their family and friends.
I love working with our teams on what seems to be an unsurmountable task or challenge and finding creative ways to solve and improve the operation.
I love welcoming new associates to Marriott and our resort and love hearing that they plan on making their career with our company.
What kind of leader do you strive to be?
Someone once told me to “be the GM that people want to work for.” I have strived to be that leader for the last 20 years. Mr. Marriott says, “Success is never final,” and I live by this statement. The moment I pause and applaud my efforts, I miss out on the next great opportunity. I LOVE celebrating the team’s accomplishments.
When you’re interviewing talent for your team, what characteristics do you look for most?
In our business of hospitality, I look for individuals who care and are friendly. We can teach the technical aspect of our business; what guests remember after leaving our hotels is not how efficiently we manage our business but the interactions that they had with our associates.
What advice do you have for those interested in working at Marriott?
Do your research. I was lucky and happened to find the perfect summer job that lasted 40 years. Marriott’s reputation as a travel company and the best employer is evident. Make certain that our core values match yours. Whether you are interested in a summer job, supplemental job, or job working through college, we have that perfect job that could lead to the perfect career.
How have you used the Marriott Explore Rate?
Now that my children are grown (and all work for Marriott), my husband and I have the opportunity to choose one of the many fabulous Florida destinations for an evening or weekend. I think we have all learned from the pandemic that it’s not “stuff” we need, but also experiences and adventure — the basic need to connect with others and their cultures; that is why I love this business. In a few weeks, we will be in Amsterdam, and I am looking forward to staying at the Moxy prior to embarking on a cruise.