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General Manager, Hilton Waikoloa Village
More from Debi
On customer service. No, they’re not always right, but they are always our guests. The number one thing is to listen and show that you are working toward a solution.
On balance. I try to make myself disconnect when I’m off. When I can’t, I have four little Yorkie dogs that help! What they say about pets and managing stress is true.
On in-flight entertainment. I don’t get a lot of time to read, but I travel a couple of times a year. I’ll save up all my magazines for months, and then when I fly, I’ll read them on the plane.
On her industry. The hospitality industry is fabulous for women. I think we are naturally more approachable and engaging, and that can translate to great results with employees and guests. I’ve traveled all over the world for my career — I remember making sales calls in Asia on the back of a motor scooter, because there weren’t taxi cabs! There are so many opportunities, especially in major markets like New York, Chicago, and California.
When 17-year-old Debi Bishop answered a newspaper ad looking for a server at a small hotel, she had no idea that she would one day be running a major resort. “It was a chance of fate,” she says. “I worked my way up through the organization.” Seizing opportunity has been the name of Debi’s game, whether that means seeking fresh perspective or developing powerful relationships with her staff.
A transplant by way of Indiana, Salt Lake City, California, and the Southern United States, Debi has found a deep appreciation for Hawaiian culture. “From the people to the land, the island is very much a part of my work every day,” she shares. “It creates something special for employees as well as guests.” Borrow the best of Debi’s curiosity and insight to evolve and advance your own career.
Be transparent. To communicate well, you have to do it a lot, and you have to do it at all levels. I have over 900 employees, but we’ve put together tools to reach everyone from the stewards to the housekeeping staff. Each week, I write a letter that’s posted in the employee cafeteria. It can touch on anything — how busy we’re going to be, a special group that’s visiting, something new that’s coming out. Touching base is what's important.
Find common ground. My father had a really strong work ethic. I would go to work with him as a little girl, and I could tell how much the people he interacted with really liked him. The loyalty was impressive. You’re the cheerleader for your employees, and you have to be charismatic to get them excited about what you want to achieve. If you take the time to understand what’s important to your team, you can find the common ground in difficult situations.
Broaden your sources. Don’t be afraid to bring in a fresh set of eyes to help move your business forward — even someone from outside your industry. I really believe that if you always do things the same way, you’re never going to get any better. I love to get up and go to work every day because our business just evolves. There’s always something exciting, new and different.
Cover your bases. You’ve got to have revenue before you can manage anything, so I spend a lot of my time working with customers and sales. Good financial management extends into other areas. Always look out for your own bottom line in addition to your company's. When you’re young, you don’t think about the fact that you’re not going to want to work forever. I don’t think you’re ever too young to take advantage of benefits like a 401(k).
Understand the consequences. When you’re making decisions, you have to think about how they will affect every part of your organization. You can’t always make everyone happy, but you have to consider the stakes. At the end of the day, when your employee survey is good, your guest satisfaction is good, your revenues are good, your profits are good...that’s what a balanced scorecard looks like.
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