These interviews are part of a series that highlights new hires within the industry. Have you recently started a new role or do you know someone who has? Submit your ideas to email@example.com.
Kevin Walsh was recently named regional director of finance for Benchmark.
1. What are you looking forward to the most in your new role?
Mostly I’m looking forward to being a helpful resource to the team; and to ownership. I enjoy process improvement. And even more, I enjoy helping others improve their own processes. The best days are when you fix problems, prevent problems, improve workflow, find new helpful tools, and generally make someone’s job easier & more enjoyable than it was yesterday. I’m eager to contribute.
2. How do you think past experiences have prepared you for this role?
I’ve worked with a lot of great owners in the past; ones who have really cared about the property and the people. They were heavily involved with many aspects of the day-to-day operations of the property, sometimes creating an overlap with our responsibilities. Rather than feeling threatened or fighting that overlap, I’ve really learned to embrace it and basically become an extension of those owners. When those owners hire us, they are trusting us to care for the people and the property in the same way that they do. I think that experience will help greatly with the unique, largely independent, ownership groups in the Benchmark portfolio.
3. How did you get into the industry?
When working my way through college, there was an opening for a night auditor at a local hotel. It was a good fit to work around my class schedule, but I originally had no intention of staying. Even after taking on some other front desk responsibilities and eventually moving into an accounts receivable role, I wasn’t thinking about a hotel career. I received my degree in mathematics, and was all set to begin my student teaching in order to get my state certification for secondary education. Since my current accounts receivable role at the hotel was a day job, I had a decision to make. Surprising even myself, I decided to forgo the teaching path (at least formally) and stick with the hospitality industry. And although I might’ve been second-guessing the decision back then, it turned out to be one of the best decisions I had ever made professionally.
4. What are you hoping to achieve in your new role?
Mostly I’m hoping to help create some new leaders in our company. There are a lot of talented controllers and directors of finance out there. In hotel finance, turning that corner from reporting to leading is crucial. I think that the days where everything is done behind the scenes on Excel worksheets in the controller’s office are steadily going away. The technology available to us today allows every manager and supervisor to take ownership of their own departments. Our role in finance is to lead that charge, and be coaches and mentors to these department heads as they try to fit into this new role. We will become better operators as a result of it. And it will help develop strong managers and supervisors, well-prepared to take the next steps in their careers.
5. What do you enjoy most about the industry?
The people, of course! It’s why I stuck with it. At first, it was the guests. I enjoyed being able to make them a little more comfortable & happy during their stay. And then I looked next to me and saw a whole team of employees doing the same thing. It can be an incredible thing. And then companies like Benchmark, who develop an entire culture giving their employees the same care and attention as their hotel guests are expected to receive. When this type of caring is at the core of your industry, what’s not to love?