Natalie DiFelice, class of 2020 writes about the second Lunch & Learn session of the 2018–19 school year, hosted by the Center for Social Value Creation on Wednesday, October 17, 2018, at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business.
Earlier this month the Center for Social Value Creation had the pleasure of welcoming Vice President of Sustainability and Supplier Diversity for Marriott International, Denise Naguib, to lead its second Lunch & Learn of the year. To a captive audience of both graduate and undergraduate students, representing a variety of majors, Naguib shared aspects of her life’s journey that included a childhood in Egypt and dreams of becoming a pediatrician, to eventually studying geography with a focus on biological and human impacts on the environment. So how does one go from geography to vice president at the largest hotel company in the world? In short, a collaboration with Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society.
After graduating Naguib worked as an environmental educator and got involved with the Ocean Futures Society helping to implement environmental education programs. Eventually, this work took her to the Cayman Islands where she introduced programming at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. From there, Naguib jumped at every opportunity to learn about the hospitality industry — from assisting the banquets team to supporting guest services. “Don’t think you’re too senior for anything,” Naguib offered. “Knowledge is always relevant and useful.” As a result of her success, Naguib was asked to join the Ritz-Carlton corporate office in Chevy Chase, and then global operations at Marriott International to continue her work on sustainability strategy.
Naguib has helped Marriott International completely transform its sustainability strategy, including supporting the development of its new all-encompassing sustainability and social impact platform, Serve 360. The Serve 360 platform aims to “do good in every direction” through four key areas: nurture our world, sustain responsible operations, empower through opportunity, and welcome all and advance human rights. Because Marriott is the largest hotel company in the world, Naguib noted that this new platform was necessary to pull together their global focus on sustainability and social impact and let consumers know of the steps they are taking to make a difference.
From large scale efforts like providing disaster relief, and training employees around the world to spot the signs of human trafficking, to smaller more direct efforts like engaging customers in sustainability through targeted messaging, these endeavors have had a positive impact on both organization and executive culture.
When asked what’s next for Marriott International, Naguib says they are intently focused on achieving their 2025 sustainability & social impact goals. Beyond that, Marriott will keep imagining what is possible, and working to stay on the forefront of sustainability and hospitality, offering their customer the best possible experience in the industry.