“When we negotiated with an owner in Hong Kong, he said, ‘Mark my words, you will have as many hotels in China as you have in the United States,’ ” she says. “I remember wondering how that could be. But I stopped myself from saying it was crazy because he knew way more about what was happening in China than I could ever know.”
That was eight years ago; Four Seasons had 20 hotels in the United States. Within a decade, it will have 15 in China – which, she says, easily puts him within the margin of error.
“I started with the business about 24 years ago and if someone had told me we’d have hotels in Moscow and Beijing I would have scratched my head and said, ‘That’s just not possible,’ ” she says.
At this point, we’ve moved on to some yogurt and lighter conversation. As she walks me back to the front desk to hand in my visitor’s pass, we stop at the recycling station to deal with what’s left on our trays.
“You know, we can get things right, down to the smallest details all over the world,” she says. “But when we put this system in we didn’t realize that we would be composting. ”
Sometimes change is impossible to predict, even for Four Seasons.
Lives in Toronto.
Married; three children.
1980: Bachelor of arts (political science), University of Toronto.
1984: Obtained law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School and MBA from Schulich School of Business, York University.
FOUR SEASONS CAREER
1989: Joined Four Seasons Hotels as corporate counsel; in 1992, appointed vice-president, general counsel.
1997: Named executive vice-president of corporate planning and development.
1999: Named president of worldwide business operations.
2007: Appointed president and chief operating officer.
2010: Appointed president and chief executive officer.
Director, Royal Bank of Canada.
Board member, Hospital for Sick Children Foundation, Toronto.
“One of my great personal regrets is not learning another language. It’s not too late, it’s just hard to find the time and then a place to use the language regularly.”
“I’ve never counted how many days a year I travel because I’m afraid of what I’ll see.”
“The Middle East in an interesting emerging market. People says that’s crazy, but if you’re thinking long-term, peace and democracy will come to many of these countries.”
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