#WomenAtHilton: From Competitors to Peers

This month, we’re celebrating Women’s History Month by honoring the #WomenAtHilton on Instagram. Follow along as we take a closer look at women at Hilton, their career journeys, how they thrive professionally and personally, and their tips for success. We’re big believers in women empowering women and one piece of career advice that we hear over and over is the importance of building a network and finding a mentor. Mary Beth Nobs and Jane Burnell are just one example of how networking can positively impact your career. Mary Beth is the Senior Director Commercial Services and Jane is VP of Global Luxury Sales. The two first met working for competitors in the hospitality industry and while they spent years competing head-to-head in the luxury segment, today they bring not only their skills and experiences but also their friendship to Hilton. When we saw their enthusiasm to work together, we knew this was a story we wanted to hear! Read on to hear about their current roles, career journey, and friendship.

1. Tell us about your friendship.

MBN: Jane’s reputation proceeded her and although I knew of her, it was when we finally met in person in Palm Springs that I understood exactly why she was admired.  Since Jane has joined Hilton, we have continued our friendship by being open and honest.

JBF: Mary Beth worked for Ritz Carlton / Marriott for many years while I worked at Four Seasons Hotels. Our paths crossed professionally over the years. Mary Beth was someone that not only my clients talked highly about but also my own colleagues.  It feels like our friendship has been cemented since joining Hilton within a year of each other. It feels like I just met up with an old friend who I had not seen for a long time and we just picked up where we left off.

2. Why is networking and mentoring so important to grow your career?

MBN: Building relationships is the key to success in the Hospitality industry and networking is so much more than how many contacts you have on LinkedIn or Facebook.  I feel to successfully network, you need to truly focus on the person you are communicating with so you can take in their words, tone, body language, etc.  We communicate with each other using most of our senses, and if we stay aware, we are able to connect on a deeper level.  I have found that mentoring is a result of focused networking, which has awarded me mentors of all ages and status, and has given me the opportunity to mentor others.  With over 25 years in the industry, I continue to learn and grow, and I know that will never change.

JBF: Building a network & mentoring in business is key to supporting your own growth and development. A network provides you with ability to connect with other professionals & access industry intelligence/insights and opinions. The sooner you start building your own network the better – it is a little like saving money. The more you save, the more you benefit in the future. I have been a member of LinkedIn for years and I check in every day. It is a great source for networking and also for others to connect with you. Face-to-face networking is always best. Carrying a business card with you particularly if you travel can provide an instant way to network. I count myself very lucky to have had the same mentor for many years. It’s important you find a mentor that knows you well enough to tell you the good, the bad and ugly- otherwise you don’t stretch yourself.

3. What does your current role at Hilton look like on a day to day to basis?

MBN: In my position, I manage the HelmsBriscoe Account that consists of 1,400 Associates booking more than $1 billion in guest room revenue worldwide.  I am responsible for creating, executing and managing strategies and processes that have the ability to move market share.

JBF: I am currently working to align and create a new Global Luxury Sales organization for Hilton. On a daily basis I am involved in various activities that support this goal which involves connecting, communicating and supporting various stakeholders in all regions of the world.

4. What is it like to work with a former competitor and how do you use this experience in your current role?

MBN: Jane is a very respected leader in the Luxury Segment and to have the opportunity to work with her is very special.  I feel proud to work for a company that goes after the very best in the industry.  Having been competitors in the Luxury segment, we can share our experiences and ideas to support the current and future growth of our Luxury Brands.  It is a great feeling to have that familiarity with someone who shares similar experiences and can be an expert industry resource.  The shared passion for our industry makes working together wonderful.

JBF: I am so, so thrilled to be working with Mary Beth on the same team! Most of all I am looking forward to learning from her and challenging myself around her area of expertise. In my current role I know Mary Beth will make me better and consequently my clients, my team and the business will benefit. Knowing that you have a trusted colleague who gets it and gets you is very special and quite rare.

5. Why do you think it is important to have friends at work?

MBN: For me, friendships are about trust and common goals. Through work friendships, we are able to share experiences, brainstorm, problem solve, etc, creating the best version of ourselves and an environment of success.

JBF: Friends in any area of life are important. They provide a balance, a shoulder to lean on, a way to kick back, laugh, and be yourself. Good friends help bring the best out of you.

6. What’s your favorite thing about working at Hilton?  

MBN: Achieving what people think cannot be done.

JBF: Providing me with the opportunity to take charge of my own destiny, develop and grow.

7. What’s your best piece of career advice for other women looking to grow their careers?

MBN: Believe in yourself enough to take risks and believe in yourself enough to absorb constructive feedback. In my career, the words and actions I live by are “It is never what you say but how you say it” so be kind in your words and although the world will tell you “don’t sweat the small stuff” I disagree. “Sweat the Small Stuff” in the hospitality industry– it is the small stuff that builds strong, trusting relationships.  There is no place to grow if a client, leader or friend cannot trust you with the small stuff!

JBF: Always put yourself in the shoes of the person you are working with- whether a client, a colleague or your boss! Be humble and hold your hand up when you make a mistake (you will make mistakes). Take risks, trust your instincts, earn trust, have fun & be first!