LaFortune: Team San Jose offers hospitality scholarship at SJSU

LaFortune: Team San Jose offers hospitality scholarship at SJSU
LaFortune: Team San Jose offers hospitality scholarship at SJSU

As you can see in my bio below, I currently serve as President and CEO of Team San Jose. Great job, great title, and a true honor to lead an incredible team. But my career in the hospitality industry didn’t start anywhere near this level of leadership or responsibility.

My career began with towels, specifically folding towels. I folded a lot of towels. I also cleaned hotel rooms, carried luggage, took guests to Disneyland, and emptied trash cans and ashtrays.

I got my first job in hospitality because I needed a job and I wanted a job with the opportunity to advance. That was 30 years ago. I discovered that it was important to me to serve people, serve my community, and contribute to the economic vitality of my hometown. And I found that the mobility available in this industry was incredibly helpful to me.

“With 80% of entry-level workers eligible for a promotion in less than a year and 50% of hotel general managers starting in an entry-level position, the hotel and lodging industry is rife with mobility opportunities. upward”. According to Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel and Lodging Association. “And as an industry where people take care of people, hotels provide the opportunity to serve others and the local community, an opportunity that other jobs rarely provide.”

As the voice of the hospitality industry in San José, Team San José’s mission has always been to boost the tourism economy and benefit residents through lower tax burdens. With this article, I am pleased to announce a new benefit, adding to our current workforce development initiatives, a complement to our ongoing partnership with San Jose State University, and a way to honor a very important person in our industry.

This month marks the fourth year without Karolyn Kirchgesler, our CEO who passed away after a courageous fight against cancer. Karolyn was a great leader for our organization and community. Those of us who work with her know her passion for hospitality and tourism, her generosity in mentoring the next generation of leaders, and her determination to break glass ceilings as a female executive.

In that spirit, I am extremely pleased to announce the establishment of the Team San Jose Kirchgesler Scholarship at San Jose State University. Beginning this fall, the scholarship will award $10,000 annually to a junior or senior pursuing a degree in hospitality, tourism and event management and who is actively involved in the Women in Business organization at the university.

I must thank the board of directors of Team San José for approving the funding for this initiative. These corporate funds are not public funds. It is essential to note that these funds are the money the organization receives for meeting and exceeding the performance measurement objectives established by the city. They do not benefit individual Team San José employees and have historically been used for necessary company expenses that do not fit into any of our contracts with the city: facilities management or destination marketing.

Importantly, these limited funds can be used to develop programs that are directly aligned with our mission. The highest and best use of these funds continues to be investing in workforce development and job creation for our community.

I must also extend a special thanks to Faranak Memarzadeh and the team at the Department of Hospitality, Tourism and Event Management at Lucas College and Graduate School of Business at San Jose State University and Sonia Wright, senior director of development at the College of Human . and Health Sciences. Her kind and generous assistance has been instrumental in the development and launch of this award.

The hospitality industry allowed me, and still offers me, the experience to grow professionally while benefiting others through service, job creation, and economic development. My greatest hope is that this scholarship honors Karolyn and helps foster many future leaders for this great industry and city.

San José Spotlight columnist John LaFortune is the president and CEO of Team San Jose, the nonprofit parent company of Visit San Jose, the city’s official destination marketing organization. Team San Jose also manages the San Jose McEnery Convention Center and entertainment venues such as the California Theatre, Performing Arts Center, Montgomery Theater and San José Civic. Contact Juan at [email protected].

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