Hilton, a major global corporation with high brand recognition, earned the number-one spot on Fortune's annual list of the 100 best companies to work for. The hospitality company employs over 60,000 people across 14 countries and territories and currently lists close to 6,500 job openings across its 275 work sites.
Conrad Hilton—yes, Paris Hilton is a descendant—founded the company when buying his first hotel in 1919. After working as the president of his hometown bank, he attempted to expand his business by purchasing a small bank in Cisco, Texas, but negotiations fell through. When he decided to invest in a hotel in its place, an empire was born.
Hilton was the son of a general goods merchant who ran businesses across the Southwest, including renting rooms to travelers. He attended the Goss Military Academy, St. Michael's College (now Santa Fe University of Art and Design). After enrolling at the New Mexico School of Mines (now the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology), he soon joined his father's business interests and became a partner.
A profoundly religious man, he served in the U. S. Army during WW1 and the New Mexico state legislature. Grounded by his humble beginnings and an intrinsic faith in hard work, he believed in the power of international travel and trade to foster world peace. Philanthropy and business are entwined in his thriving global hotel enterprise and embraced through Hilton's corporate motto, "World Peace Through International Trade and Travel."
Hospitality, philanthropy and service—and longevity—have come to define the company that current CEO Chris Nassetta has helmed out of McLean, Virginia for the past decade, after a dozen years at Host Hotels & Resorts. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Commerce degree from the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia.
Johnson & Wales University is a primary feeder school for Hilton, with over 300 alumni working for various branches of the organization. One of those alumni is Jennifer Falvella, who graduated in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in event management, highlighting studies in media literacy, ticketing methods, venue management, and negotiations and agreements. After college, Falvella's degree led to an internship at a wine shop, working as a stock associate at the Banana Republic, leading a sales team at Michael's Arts & Crafts—and finally, an entry-level job at Hilton. She's currently in her fifth year of work as an Assistant Event Coordinator at Doubletree by Hilton in Nanuet, New York.
Another top feeder school is the highly competitive Cornell University. The Ivy League research university is home to the Hotel School at the SC Johnson College of Business, which doesn't make its relationship with Hilton especially surprising. Between its alumni network and its internship opportunities, the school acts as a pipeline to a Hilton career.
Take Cornell alum and Hawaii native, Duke Ah Moo. The VP and Commercial Director of Hawaii at Hilton received a Bachelor of Science in Hotel Administration degree at Cornell and later, a Master of Business Administration degree from the College of Business at the University of Nevada - Las Vegas. Thanks in part to his education, he has the skills to excel at an executive level, such as the ability to quickly and accurately analyze large amounts of information. He's also able to develop smart solutions to business obstacles that arise from market shifts like new booking trends, franchise models, or marketing practices.
Savvy Cornell alum Jordan Schlotterbeck earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration while foregrounding leadership roles as Cornell Hotel Society's SVP and serving as an Ambassador to the Cornell and CIA Alliance Program. Later, he doubled down on his career goals by pursuing an Associate of Occupational Studies degree at the Culinary Institute of America and immersing himself in classic and contemporary culinary techniques as well as global cuisines.
In the intervening years, he worked several roles in catering and hospitality management, such as Saveur Magazine and &pizza, before joining Hilton Worldwide in 2013. Building on his combined experience in management and foodservice, he began as a Global Food and Beverage Strategy and Innovation Coordinator. He swiftly rose to the role of manager within his division before being promoted to his current position as the Director of Food and Beverage Development for Americas at Hilton in Washington, D.C.
If one thing is clear, it's that Hilton offers a ladder for advancement, of which Mr. Schlotterbeck took advantage. But while he may be an Ivy League graduate, his alma mater didn't get him a job at Hilton entirely on its own. As for MBAs, not having one isn't exactly a block to entry—and Hilton hotel's current CEO is proof. What matters most is that candidates have an intrinsic faith in hard work—and a sense of hospitality that extends beyond four walls.
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