Name: Susana D.
Position: Director of Meetings & Special Events
Hotel: The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba
Dream Destination: I love to dive, so anywhere with great diving.
Drink or treat of choice: Green Tea either iced or hot. I love cheese! Any cheese and all cheeses.
Susana still remembers the first day of her internship at the Aruba Marriott & Stellaris Casino back in 2011 — and still recalls how it felt like her “perfect match.”
“The culture’s commitment to putting people first and striving for excellence inspired me and motivated me to be part of the company,” Susana says about that initial spark. “Once my internship had finished, there was not a doubt in my mind that I wanted to be part of this organization and build a career here.”
Build a career she did. As common with many Marriott associates, Susana has been able to experience several different departments during her tenure, moving from the Front Desk to F&B and eventually to Event Management. Similarly, Susana was able to experience different Marriott hotels in the beautiful Caribbean — from the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino to the Grand Cayman Marriott and finally to her current resort, The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba.
“Marriott International has let me follow my passions, stay curious, and never stop learning,” says Susana, whose current role is Director of Meetings & Special Events for the five-star Aruba beachfront resort. “I’m lucky to be part of a company that shares my values, embraces diversity, and lets me make a positive impact on guests, colleagues, and communities.”
Hear more about Susana’s Marriott journey, and her advice for prospective associates, in her own words below.
How did your Marriott journey start?
Back in 2011, I began my career with Marriott International while finishing up my last year in university. Before graduating, I had to do a six-month internship for my bachelor’s degree in International Tourism Management. I remember my first day at the Aruba Marriott & Stellaris Casino – it felt like my perfect match. At first, I thought I’d explore different areas in Tourism Management after getting my degree, but during my internship, I got to work with inspiring leaders who turned into my mentors.
What happened at the end of your internship?
Once my internship had finished, there was not a doubt in my mind that I wanted to be part of this organization and build a career here. My first role as a Marriott associate was Front Desk supervisor for the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino. I loved the Front Office! Everything from the daily strategies and making sure my team rocked it – our efforts were reflected in the happy guests. A year later, I got the chance to step up as a Project Supervisor, reporting to the Director of Food and Beverage. I always say that this was one of the best roles I have held! From diving deep into the P&Ls to report findings to the Director of F&B, to renovating restaurants, revamping the Casino’s break room, running property wide GSS competitions and score analysis.
How did you get your start in Events?
While in the Project Supervisor role, I teamed up with the Event Management crew on different projects. That’s when I fell for the discipline and as soon as I saw Event Manager opening, I applied. “What a thrill!” — I thought while imagining what it would be like to take on this role. And, I was right, I was able to be creative, keep my love for numbers and strategies alive. And if you know Marriott, you know this is welcome and encouraged. So, after two awesome years as an Event Manager at Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, I transitioned to the Grand Cayman Marriott as a Senior Event Manager and within a year, I was the Director of Events there.
What led you to your current position?
In 2019, the chance to head back to Aruba presented itself, this time with a different Marriott brand, The Ritz-Carlton. I was thrilled and curious, ready to keep learning and growing.
Then, 2020 hit, and we all know how that went. COVID-19 had a major impact. But even in the chaos, Marriott International came together as one big virtual family, all over the world, with the same goal: “We will travel again” and keep serving our guests like we do best.
Do you think you would have made any different career choices if you had to go back and do it again?
Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing in my career choices. Marriott International has let me follow my passions, stay curious, and never stop learning. I’m lucky to be part of a company that shares my values, embraces diversity, and lets me make a positive impact on guests, colleagues, and communities.
As Steve Jobs once said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
As a leader, what are your tips for improving work quality and efficiency?
- Always pursue excellence, from the smallest effort to the most complex one.
- Be proud of your craft and never stop being curious and learning.
- Efficiency comes hand in hand with organization. Organize yourself – for the next day before you leave the office and once again when you return in the morning. This ensures effective scheduling and helps prioritize your efforts.
What core skills and traits are essential for a person interested in pursuing a career in Events?
- Organization: This is at the forefront of any discipline, and it is especially critical in Event Management. As an Event Manager you will need to manage multiple tasks at the same time. Organization helps you keep things running smoothly.
- Passion: You must have passion for the discipline, for the details that will make the difference between a good, a great, memorable event.
- Eye for details: Along with passion, one must be observant to ensure that the smallest details are perfect. Afterall, in Event Management; it is often that the smallest details are the most crucial.
Does Marriott provide you with any opportunities to improve your skills?
As a company, we continue to innovate and raise the bar. Besides the great learnings found in our internal learning platforms, we’re each other’s best resource. Initiatives such as the Event Council ensures that the discipline stays connected and that we continue learning from each other and sharing our best practices to elevate events in our organization.