A Visit to White Lodging’s Corporate Headquarters

Posted: Wednesday, July 22nd 2015 at 8:09 AM

Dr. Wanda Costen, School of Hotel and Restaurant Management (SHRM) executive director, and Connie Ott, director of development, visited the White Lodging corporate headquarters in Merrillville, Ind. June 2, 2015. The relatively new relationship began with the addition of Sherif Guirguis to the SHRM National Advisory Board. As Senior Regional Vice President of White Lodging, Guirguis helped build the connection between SHRM and the company’s corporate offices.

Dr. Costen wanted to learn more about what the company looks for in recent graduates in order to help prepare students for internships while they’re still in school, as well as entry-level management jobs to begin their careers.

“My goal is to be one of the top schools where White Lodging recruits for entry-level management talent,” she explained. “Most hospitality companies today have identified usually five core schools that they’re going to recruit from across the board for every position, and they invest money in them. I’d like to have NAU be a core recruitment school for more top hospitality corporations. We’ve had some recent success with our grads in terms of being hired and that put us on their [White Lodging’s] radar.”

While visiting headquarters, Dr. Costen and Ott learned about the company’s values, strategic goals and the characteristics of White Lodging’s ideal candidate. Laura Presnol, Senior Director of Talent Acquisition, presented the background of the company and discussed what they’re looking for in new hires.

Leadership capabilities are at the top of the list; successful new hires are those who take on additional responsibilities. Candidates must be driven and have the ability to multitask, but Presnol also emphasized that their culture isn’t for everyone. Managers there hold themselves, peers and direct reports accountable.

White Lodging is the second largest independent hotel management company in the U.S., with over 200 hotels in its portfolio. Recruitment goes further than just hotel management positions though; for a company as big as them, they also look for the best future salespeople to help them continue their growth.

Currently, White Lodging recruits many of their salespeople from Northern Illinois University (NIU)’s sales program. Jerry Keyes, one of White Lodging’s Regional Vice Presidents, appreciates the program’s high standards and the requirements students must meet in order to receive their Professional Selling Certificate. NAU’s emerging sales program, within the W. A. Franke College of Business (FCB), hopes to provide a worthy candidate pool as well.

“They don’t go to NIU for hospitality students--they go for salespeople,” Dr. Costen said. “So if they could come here and do both, that would be perfect.

"It’s still too early in our relationship to see how well our graduates will perform in the White Lodging culture, but at least they’re acknowledging that we have talented students and it’s worth their time to recruit here from a corporate perspective,” she concluded.

Categories: summer 2015 dr wanda costen connie ott white lodging laura presnol jerry keyes students internships