marriott general manager
Courtesy of Jennifer W.

Name: Jennifer W.
Position: General Manager
Location: Toronto Marriott Markham
Dream destination: I have a list! I’d love to get to Bali, Oman, Hawaii, Newfoundland, the Arctic, Greece, France, Italy, Fiji, Utah, Egypt, Turkey, and complete the Camino de Santiago.
Drink or treat of choice: Hands down, anything chocolate.

No matter where you are in your career, nothing makes you reassess your life and your priorities as the loss of a loved one. When Jennifer lost her husband to a six-year battle with cancer several years ago, she had to take a leave of absence from her role leading Marriott’s Canadian Sales Office to close her husband’s business and focus on her daughters.

During that time away, Jennifer stayed connected to her “Marriott people” who kept checking in on her and her family.

“After a year and a half, I was ready to work and was welcomed back [to Marriott], picking up projects that also allowed me to learn how to be a single, working mom,” Jennifer says of her return to work following her spouse’s passing. “My husband was an incredible partner and working without his support was a scary proposition.”

marriott general manager

Courtesy of Jennifer W.

But despite that fear, Jennifer persevered — and went on to bring her career to new heights.

“I had so much support from so many people in Marriott and in August 2022, my dream job became available,” she says, referencing the top position at the at the Toronto Marriott Markham hotel. “I applied and earned the General Manager role I have today. “

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According to Jennifer, she started her hospitality career “by accident” — and almost 30 years later, she runs a sleek and sophisticated 209 room hotel in the heart of downtown Markham.

Learn more about Jennifer’s inspiring journey in her own words below.

How did your Marriott career begin and how did you get where you are now?

I accidentally started my hospitality career with Marriott in 1996. I had full intentions of being with the company for a short period of time to gain experience so I could become a meeting planner. I started at the front desk at the Toronto Marriott Eaton Centre as a Guest Service Agent, I soon moved to a trainee role that included housekeeping and sales, eventually staying in sales as an Executive Meeting Manager, then sales manager. I had the chance to open newly built hotels as a Director of Sales & Marketing. I then became the Area Director of Sales & Marketing for Western Canada, and later, Senior Director of Marriott’s Canadian Sales Office while integrating Starwood and Delta into Marriott and launching the Canadian Sales Office (now called MHS). Eighteen months ago, I became the General Manager at the Toronto Marriott Markham.

How would you describe your experience as a Marriott associate?

I am so glad that I had the foresight more than 20 years ago to choose to work for a company that I can feel proud to be part of. My values align well with the culture, and I appreciate the opportunities I have been given. There have been very hard times at work. I’ve made mistakes, but I’ve been allowed to grow and learn from them. And now I’m in a position to pay it forward and grow the next generation of our workforce.

Proudest moment of your career so far?

That’s a tough one. Personally, it’s raising two daughters while I worked, who have reached ages 16 and 19 and are terrific human beings. Professionally, I would have to say that becoming General Manager at the Toronto Marriott Markham is the pinnacle of my career. It was the goal I set for myself when I learned about the property 12 years ago. I made a lot of calculated decisions and took risks with my career to position myself for consideration. They all paid off because I made it. One of my Marriott mentors took me for lunch after I got the job and said, “I am proud of you, kiddo – you made it happen.” That meant everything to me.

marriott general manager

Courtesy of Jennifer W.

How was the interviewing process for such a high-ranking role?

The interview process for the General Manager position was intense. I had no General Manager experience so I had to work hard to translate my sales leadership experience into real examples of proof as to why I could excel as a GM. My best tip is to be prepared with stories and examples that show your passion. Don’t be afraid to talk about your contributions and results. Oftentimes it’s hard because you feel like you are bragging, but you aren’t! Be proud of what you have accomplished. You need to be able to tell your story so you can show the hiring managers why you are the only candidate.

What is your favorite part of the job?

I still get a high when a guest has an incredible experience as a result of something I’ve contributed to their stay. But my bucket and heart are full when I see my people succeed. There is nothing better than running into someone who was on your team and left for a chance to move their career forward and they are killing it in their new role. That, or working towards a big goal as a team and making it happen together. Seeing how proud people are of their accomplishments is so rewarding.

How would you describe your hotel’s culture?

I hope people will say that our culture is to come to work and do good work. Leave every situation and interaction a little better than how you found it. Take care of each other, take care of our guests. Be authentic, be yourself and have fun.

marriott general manager

What are the perks, benefits and resources available to you at Marriott?

The Explore rate that allows me to make amazing memories and find joy in life is a very tangible perk. Our benefits package is a great perk, it includes a variety of paramedical coverage, mental health support, savings for old age by matching contributions and so much more. Training too, I have been lucky enough to attend many training programs led by dynamic instructors who taught me so much. MGS (Marriott Global Source, our employee intranet) is an awesome resource. You can search just about anything and find a resource for any question.

The fact that I built most of my career in one company, but had many different roles and opportunities is a hidden perk. And at the end of the day, the caliber of people that Marriott is able to attract is impressive. It’s working with these really inspirational and fun people that is the best benefit, perk and resource in my opinion.

How have you used the Marriott Explore Rate?

As often as I can. Travel is a joy and an escape and an opportunity to reconnect with my family and give my daughters a chance to experience the world. I’ve had so many amazing travel experiences that have helped me become the person I am today. The Marriott Explore rate has given me the gift of memory building with my late husband and my girls; something we will cherish always.

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