Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

From Medical School to Hotel Management

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

From Medical School to Hotel Management

Article excerpt

From Medical School to Hotel Management.

BALTIMORE -- Even those who truly enjoy their jobs would never think of living in their place of employment. For Robert L. Steele, the Hyatt Regency in Baltimore is home. As general manager, he and his family reside on the premises, only steps away from the demands of managing a $28 million budget, 400 employees and 487 rooms.

With his day beginning at 6 a.m. and ending at 7 p.m., he can be found greeting guests, meeting with staff and hosting receptions. But Steele's move to a downtown city location from the suburban hub of the Hyatt in Fairfax, VA a year ago has meant greater involvement in city politics, public relations and work to enhance tourism. From speaking engagements at Boy Scout meetings to presentations at the city council, it's all a part of the job for Steele.

"The best part is that no two days are ever the same," says Steele. "It's instant gratification. You can see your results when guests walk out having had a good experience and plan to return."

Ironically, Steele was headed for medical school when his career took off in the hospitality industry. As a graduate student studying biology at the University of Tennessee, he was hard at work fulfilling his mother's dream for him to become a doctor. A job after school at Hugo's dining room at the Hyatt Regency in Nashville led to rapid promotions. In just three months he went from waiter to manager and his plans for medical school quickly changed.

From that point on, he steadily climbed the management ladder with positions ranging from regional food and beverage director, responsible for the Hyatt in Milwaukee and six other locations from Florida to Indianapolis to general manager in Northern Virginia, where he spent five years. But one of his most challenging opportunities came with the opening of the Hyatt Regency-Capitol Hill as general manager.

"I've always wanted to open a hotel from the ground up," says Steele. "I had the opportunity to hand select everything from the staff to the china. I was able to place my signature there in terms of the quality of service."

His last promotion brought him back to Baltimore as general manager, where he has worked as a food and beverage manager.

"In suburban properties, everything is more laid back," he says. "Coming back into the city, there are urban issues that must be addressed including getting back into the politics of the city. …

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