Early in April, Alumnus and Regional Vice President with Starwood Hotels Chuck Abbott (BA ’79) paid a visit to campus to speak to students in The School.

Chuck is Starwood’s regional vice president, South East Asia, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore, and managing director of the Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur.  He has over 30 years of global hospitality experience, with extensive knowledge of all areas of hotel operations, as well as project feasibility studies, development/project analysis, and pre- and post-opening hotel management.  He met with the Hospitality Business Real Estate Investment Management Specialization Director Dr. A.J. Singh, and in informal “meet and greet” sessions, answering students’ questions on the unique challenges and characteristics of international business and South East Asia hospitality opportunities, in particular.

In Joel Heberlein’s HB 237 – Management of Lodging Systems class later that evening, Chuck spoke to the 200 students on the same topics, noting in addition the importance of understanding cultural differences and how respecting those differences affects guest services.  Chuck explained how the owners in his part of the world view “success,” saying that it is more about “reputation than the bottom line, especially in food and beverage operations.”

Chuck provided advice for students planning to interview, telling them to “be humble.”

“Starting at the ground floor and working your way up is not all bad,” he said.  “Be open-minded about your opportunities and take initiative.”

Chuck talked about his own career path, as well as some of the challenges and opportunities of the hospitality industry.  He began his career with Western International, the hotel company that preceded Westin Hotels.  He has been with Westin his entire career, now a part of the Starwood portfolio.

“Chuck’s message really resonates with our students, who are increasingly focused on the global hospitality industry,” says School Director Dr. Ron Cichy.  “He is an important alumnus with valuable lessons for this generation of students.”