Meet Our 2015 CEO Light & Warmth Award Winners.
We’ve spent the past year searching for the best of the best among Hilton’s owned, managed, and franchise properties—and we found them! Congratulations to our 2015 CEO Light & Warmth Award winners. These 12 champions have exceeded our expectations in every way, and embody our shared H-I-L-T-O-N values. This year’s winners will receive global recognition and a one-time bonus of US $10,000.
Scott Austin: Selflessly Spreading Hospitality.
Scott was born to work in Hospitality. He knows how to take exceptional care of guests, celebrate the success of his team, and serve the community at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Houston Downtown. He personally cleaned up a 1974 Cadillac convertible given to the hotel for a local parade, so he could pick up his best guests. He organized contributions for a Team Member struggling with cancer, and then exemplified Ownership by helping a fellow GM with their hurricane-damaged property while his own sold-out hotel was without power.
Scott brought Travel with Purpose to life by spearheading a fundraiser for the Special Olympics, helping them raise $425,000 in three years, and he mentors local children from underserved neighborhoods every year. Even more impressive, Scott does all of this while remaining focused on Teamwork. He says that this recognition is only meaningful if he can share it with his colleagues.
Abeer Fakeerh: Paving the Way for Women in Business and Hospitality.
A true leader, Abeer has represented the women’s sector at an HR forum in Abu Dhabi, headed a delegation of 12 women leaders at a hotel and tourism forum, and partnered with colleges in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to help 45 female students find job opportunities at Makkah Hilton Towers.
Abeer embodies the spirit of Teamwork as she manages Team Members’ insurance policies, advocates for their medical rights, and even provided free snacks and beverages during Team Member Appreciation Week. She also spreads Hospitality by helping underprivileged members of the community, such as leading orphans to employment through the [email protected] Live: Youth in Hospitality Month event at the hotel.
Kayleigh Glover: A Passion for Hospitality with a Dash of Creativity.
Kayleigh’s creativity and customer service make an impact on guests and Team Members every day at the Hilton Nottingham. For example, after a booking agent for a conference failed to communicate a preorder of gingerbread cookies, Kayleigh took Ownership and delivered a solution. She purchased the ingredients for the hotel chef to make the dough, then arrived at 6:30 the next morning to make and decorate the cookies. Disaster avoided. Day saved.
Kayleigh also posted boards around the office to help track departmental improvements and Front Office performance, improving team morale and motivating others. To support her community, she launched a local charity event which raised over £500, and she used her creativity to open a Kid’s Corner during school holidays, giving children a fun outlet and parents a much-needed break. Kayleigh clearly has an infectious passion for Hospitality. Best of all, it seems to have no bounds.
Tony Hall: Serving Those Who Serve Their Country.
A Team Member at the Homewood Suites by Hilton BWI Airport, Tony generously volunteers at the Annapolis Naval Academy and at the USO, assembling care packages for troops. His support has even paid off for his hotel and for sister properties—to the tune of over $70,000 of Naval Academy business. He is consistently one of the first to help decorate the hotel for military guests and organizes transportation for large military groups.
On top of that, Tony is the hotel’s official travel guide for the area, and has memorized all local transportation schedules. Taking Ownership, he often uses his own vehicle to jump start guest cars and can be found cleaning tables, running towels for housekeeping, or setting up meeting rooms in his free time. How much do his coworkers appreciate what he does? Tony was voted 2015 Employee of the Year, yet another well-deserved accolade for a stellar Team Member.
Mychelle Hix: Spreading Hospitality Where It Is Needed.
Mychelle’s generosity is almost too big to measure. She regularly helps Team Members who are in need, and also provided a job to one man who couldn’t find work. Mychelle exemplified Hospitality by putting up a teammate’s homeless son in a hotel until he found a job, and she takes senior class photos for low-income teens.
Her outstanding Hospitality has brought in new business. Mychelle is also active in her community, supporting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the American Diabetes Association, and a local nursing home. This isn’t the first time Mychelle has been recognized for living the H-I-L-T-O-N Values: On one occasion, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden recognized her for the exceptional experience he received at the hotel, proving that her contagious Hospitality has a positive impact on everyone around her.
Nora Miller: Helping 86 Hotels Without Breaking a Sweat.
A Team Member at the Memphis Shared Services Center, Nora is a uniquely giving person. Although she spends nearly 200 days a year traveling to the 86 hotels she supports, Nora will pick up more hotels when fellow auditors are short-staffed. She showed Teamwork by spending a rare day off brainstorming on how to better support hotels, and developed a department checklist to make things easier for General Managers. She also created a Pillow Cheat Sheet for Focus Service Brands to make it easy for hotels to be compliant in standards changes.
On a more personal level, Nora’s colleagues can always expect a handmade birthday or holiday card. She donates blood yearly in the memory of a supervisor’s mother, and even drove 45 minutes to bring cupcakes decorated with Hampton logos to a General Manager’s retirement party. Living our Values every day, Nora is truly one of a kind.
Ruben Monsalve: Making a World of Difference.
Not surprisingly, Ruben’s entire team at the Homewood Suites by Hilton Wichita @ the Waterfront submitted his nomination. After an early life in Colombia filled with adversity, helping the hotel save a significant amount of money with his repairs and innovative ideas just came naturally. He even took Ownership and turned his home garage into a workshop for hotel projects. No matter how complicated the task, Ruben will find a way to exceed expectations with a smile.
His title may be Engineer, but Ruben has been able to sell meeting space just by exuding his genuine Hospitality. Ruben’s team believes that their hotel is #1 on TripAdvisor due to his Integrity and Hospitality. Each year his family donates to their local Toys for Tots, as Ruben’s humble beginnings have inspired him to help others as a shining example of our Hilton Values.
Mariela Restrepo: Making Her Hotel, and Her Community, Bloom.
For almost 30 years, Mariela has delivered exceptional guest experiences, increased SALT scores, and grown revenue at the Hilton Cartagena. In 2011, the hotel launched a renovation campaign but funding did not cover upgrading their gardens. Mariela took Ownership, became a landscape expert, and spent countless hours in research and implementation. Without neglecting her day job, she produced stunning results. Through her Leadership, she saved the hotel $30,000 and an added $24,000 in annual maintenance savings since 2014.
Mariela has also coordinated the Miss Colombia pageants for three decades, often sleeping in her office while the hotel runs at full capacity, bringing in over $200,000 in revenue and gaining the Hilton Cartagena great local press. As an inspiration to other Team Members, Mariela continues to plant the seeds of Hospitality every day.
Lois Shimada: Spreading Light & Warmth in Waikiki.
Through her role in Hilton Grand Vacations Oahu Sales & Marketing, Lois oversees more than 45 Team Members at multiple locations in Waikiki with a well-balanced, hands-on approach. Under her strong Leadership, SALT scores have steadily risen, along with percentages of market penetration. Lois even implemented a 60-day mentorship program, and the result was improved morale, better leaders, and increased retention. Beyond that, she thoughtfully brought her marketing and operations teams together with a common vision.
Lois regularly works after hours, often selflessly covering for teammates. She helps serve meals at a local shelter and has been known to stay up late cooking team appreciation breakfasts. Perhaps most impressively, when Hurricane Iselle made landfall, Lois sent her team home while she and two managers closed down the desk locations to prevent any loss, before staying overnight on property. She is a shining of example of Hilton Leadership.
Sagun Singh: Inspiring with Compassion and a Sense of Urgency.
Teammates agree that Sagun is the backbone of Conrad Indianapolis. He operates with a keen sense of urgency, whether responding to a hotel request or showing support for a tragedy-stricken country.
Sagun’s family is from Kathmandu, and when the catastrophic earthquakes hit Nepal, he creatively used a GoFundMe campaign to raise $1,876. He traveled to Nepal, and after learning of a village without clean water, he spent some of the funds to purchase new water pipes. For nearly six weeks, Sagun helped install the pipes, rebuild a school, and deliver medical supplies. He even brought candy for the children who had been displaced. His example is an ongoing inspiration to his team, and they enjoy working with a man who puts the well-being of others at the heart of his work.
Ruffy Sulaiman: Spreading Blue Energy Throughout the Community.
Originally from Nigeria, Chef Ruffy of the Hilton Houston-Americas believes so strongly in the use of regional and seasonal produce that he promotes sustainability by supporting local growers. Each year, elementary students visit his hotel to learn about healthy eating, but when these children were not able to attend last year, Chef Ruffy generously brought the food, education, and fun to them using hotel shuttles. He has been a key player in student tours, veterans’ lunches, and the Salvation Army’s Thanksgiving dinner.
As a member of Hilton’s South Central Region Culinary Council, Chef Ruffy assists with the culinary initiatives of 20 hotels, taking Ownership of hiring and training their chefs and monitoring corporate programs. He coordinates fundraising events, recently raised $53,000 for a high school in Nigeria, and makes it clear that Hospitality is in his DNA.
Eugene Win: Living the Hilton Values During Times of Need.
Eugene exemplifies our Travel with Purpose beliefs. When severe weather created flooding and power outages in Rakhine State, Myanmar, Eugene bravely led a team from the Hilton Ngapali that prepared and delivered lunch packs. They had to walk through muddy roads and chest-deep water, then travel by boat, to deliver aid. He now arranges blood donations to help local hospitals and clinics. As donating blood is relatively new to most of the Team Members, Eugene has also taken an extra step and helped increase awareness.
In September, Eugene won the Spirit of Blue Energy Award. Shortly after, the home of one of his teammates burned down. Eugene kindly donated half of his award money toward rebuilding, started a collection among the team, and monitored the well-being of the family throughout construction. In one more impressive expression of his ongoing sense of Hospitality and Ownership, Eugene gave the rest of the award money to a local school.