As the director of multicultural sales for Hilton Worldwide, Ronnette Phillips makes things happen for the venerable hotel giant. “My job is about focusing on the needs of clients from multicultural markets—African-Americans, Asian, Hispanics and Native Americans—and making sure their goals and objectives are met when they do business with our properties, both in the U.S and international territories,” she says. “I also work our hotel operator, which includes a vast portfolio of 3,900 properties owned by, managed by, or franchised to independent operators by Hilton Worldwide, to help meet client expectations.”
No two days are the same for Phillips, whose workweek often extends beyond the nine to five. Traveling plays a big role in the Dallas-based executive’s life; her typical week very often requires her to travel from coast to coast. “I like to work directly with my clients, and that very often requires me to log in long hours on the road so that I can sit down directly with them to plan and organize their goals,” says Phillips. “I also meet and work directly with hotels that are part of the Hilton portfolio, to provide them with the support and resources to make their benchmarks.”
Although a big part of her job is transactional, Phillips insists that what’s even more important to her is creating solid relationships with her clients. “My focus is on building strategic partnerships that lead to a win-win for both parties,” she says. “It’s also about working with our hotels partners to make sure that Hilton standard of excellence, particularly in customer service, is maintained.
“I think the hospitality industry is one of the greatest kept secrets,” Phillips continues, discussing her decade-long career in the industry. “At Hilton, the opportunities to build a fulfilling and productive career are vast and global. We have hotels in 90 countries, as well as regional and corporate offices in the areas of sales, marketing, finance, HR, supply management, brand management and legal, to name a few. The opportunities are truly endless, and the benefits of being a professional in the hospitality industry have created opportunities to see and experience the world.”
Phillips says the secret to success begins with first enjoying the work that you do. “I really do enjoy introducing my products to clients and building those relationships,” she shares. “I think the appreciation I have for my work shows in the bottom line results I am able to deliver. It’s important that you enjoy what you do, because it motivates you to constantly reach for a higher standard of excellence.”
After making the decision about your career path, Phillips advises that young professionals get involved in opportunities to increase their understanding of the industry they’re entering. She also stresses the importance of seeking out advice and resources from family, friends, and especially mentors who can assist in creating a solid foundation for your career. “Make sure that you network,” she adds. “It’s all about networking and then building from there.”
Gil Robertson IV is an award-winning journalist, bestselling author and president of the African-American Film Critics Association.