Legacy Series: Jon Hales, Preparing HRM Students by Teaching from Experience

Posted: Thursday, July 5th 2018 at 10:09 AM

“You can teach from experience, but you cannot teach experience,” and, for the past 20 plus years, that’s exactly what Dr. Jonathan Hales has done. With a bachelor degree in economics from the University of Utah, an MBA from Arizona State, and an Ed.D in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University, Hales has brought his vast hotel and restaurant experiences into the classroom.

Hales worked for Marriott International for 25 years. During his tenure with the company he worked as Director of Finance at the St. Louis Airport Marriott and Rancho Las Palmas Resort in Palm Springs, and as Resident Manager in Houston and Miami where he was in charge of all rooms operations. In his final seven years with Marriott, he was the general manager at the Tampa Westshore Marriott and the 800 room Miami Airport Marriott.

Article: Alice S. Marriott AwardThe Miami Airport Marriott was awarded the first annual Alice S. Marriott Award for Community Service chosen from over 1,000 Marriott hotels and restaurants worldwide.

When reflecting on his time at the Miami Airport Marriott, Hales points out that, “It’s fun! But you have the responsibility of the entire hotel, so you’re putting together a team and that’s why leadership is so important. It’s how you work with your managers, executive, and associates to do good work every day.”

Hales shared a poignant moment he experienced after Hurricane Andrew struck south Florida on August 24,1992:

“You went up to our top floor and look out at one of the busiest airports in the United States and there were only two airplanes and we were on a major freeway and it was totally empty of cars, it was pretty eerie.”  

Pointing out a general manager’s responsibility, Hales went on to explain that, “At that time, Hurricane Andrew was the most expensive natural disaster in the United States. We were completely sold out and had over 1000 guests at the time. Customer safety is important so when preparing for an event like this, we have a manager meeting and go over all details such as does Engineering have the backup generators, does security have evacuation plans and first aid kits in hand, and does food and beverage have their orders in for food so they can be prepared without electricity?” In the aftermath of the storm, Hales made certain that his staff understood that customer wellbeing was their main priority.

Hales brought his wealth of knowledge and experiences into the classroom at Northern Arizona University to help students understand the reality and the hard work that goes into running a hotel. In his time as a professor in the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management, he has taught senior seminar, accounting, finance, resort management, front office management, and developed the hospitality analytics class.

Text book: Accounting and Financial Analysis in the Hospitality Industry, In an effort to bring relevant information into the classroom, Hales uses a book he wrote, Accounting and Financial Analysis in the Hospitality Industry, which was edited by Directors of Finance from Four Seasons, Hyatt, and Marriott. The textbook has been used in approximately 25 universities in the United States, and it has been translated into Mandarin for use in China.

Each year a group of students from The W. A. Franke College of Business travels to Omaha, NB to tour the Berkshire Hathaway Company and meet Warren Buffet. The application process for the trip involves an extremely competitive application process. Hales was instrumental in the creation of a similar opportunity made for students in the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management. He explains that once a year students take a trip to the headquarters of a hotel company and meet CEO’s and other members of senior management. This trip provides students with the opportunity to hear firsthand from senior executives that run worldwide operations. 

He reminisced about his time working with Native American students and being an advisor for their club. In general, it has always brought him great joy to work with students and help them succeed. One such example was Lopez Lomong, a United States Olympic track runner. Hales worked directly with Lopez when he started at Northern Arizona University and began running track and cross country. Over time, Lopez finished his degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management while participating in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and the 2012 Olympics in London. Hales supported and helped guide many students in their endeavors for the last 23 years.

As a final comment on his career and advice to students, Hales stated, “Learn from other leaders, take those lessons to heart and work on being the best you that you can be.”


Categories: faculty 2018 legacy series jon hales hales hrm marriott summer 2018