LEADING THE CHANGE: Building More Fulfilling Careers in Hospitality

Interview with Shelly Garner AVP @Ecolab

S.G.: How should leaders foster job satisfaction and retention?

Garner: I think it’s all about bringing more humanity to the workplace, and that starts with leadership and mentorship. If it weren’t for my mentors, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Good mentors make sure younger professionals know that people care about them— that there are people in their organization that want to see them succeed. I also think it’s important to encourage younger professionals to find their own style. It’s okay to be you — you don’t have to fit a mold to be successful. Think about who you are, what you want to do, and your unique strengths — and then play to those strengths. In particular, I think young women professionals need good mentors. I like to think I’m a model that shows them that they can be successful in leadership roles. But I also think we need women in leadership roles to be accessible mentors on a more everyday level: To be available for questions as simple as, “What kind of shoes did you wear and how did you wear your hair in this important meeting?” It’s important for younger women professionals to have mentors that can relate to them on this more granular level. S.G.: How can we support more fulfilling careers in our industry?

Garner: I think we all tend to think of the “born leaders” as the ones who naturally fit that classic style of leadership. But I think anyone can be a leader if they want to. The key is finding your own leadership style, leaning into it, and not trying to be someone you’re not. People respect authenticity and genuineness. They respond to that. And that also creates a culture where they feel comfortable leaning into their own strengths and executing their own role in their own way. S.G.: How does career growth factor into fulfillment? Garner: Every time I’ve taken on a new role, it’s pushed me out of my comfort zone. That’s scary. It’s hard. But it’s also energizing — and that payoff never stops. In my current role, I’m continuously challenged to help Ecolab’s hospitality customers meet evolving compliance requirements, to find new ways to enhance safety and quality, and to help them drive customer satisfaction and brand protection — while protecting profitability. That’s a simple way of saying that a sustainable career doesn’t mean a stagnant career. Your job isn’t going to be fulfilling if you’re bored and not challenged.

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