He encouraged students to “grow themselves.” Tom Murray, CEO of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA), said once he hit his 20s, he knew he had to keep learning and pursuing new goals. “I made myself more valuable to other people. What I was looking for was further personal growth.”
Murray served as the College of Hospitality Management’s Distinguished Visiting Professor (DVP) on JWU's Charlotte Campus in January. As the leader of the CRVA, he is responsible for promoting hospitality, tourism, events and conventions. Hospitality is a multi-billion-dollar industry — in the Charlotte area alone, there are 131,000 travel and tourism jobs. And that is why he says the relationship between the CRVA and JWU is crucial.
“Johnson & Wales is important,” Murray said. “There is a need for amazing talent in the hospitality industry. Many of you will be leading people. For every 9 jobs, 1 works in hospitality."
Sunil Atreya, college chair, agrees that JWU is an important stakeholder in the Charlotte community. “The lodging industry is robust and growing. JWU does — and should — take credit to a large extent for this growth as it continues to provide necessary, viable talent to put these hospitality organizations at a competitive advantage.”
There is a need for amazing talent in the hospitality industry. Many of you will be leading people. For every 9 jobs, 1 works in hospitality."
Murray told students when they are eventually leaders, they will have to keep the talent happy. “There is no such thing as a bad employee, just bad management. You need skills dealing with people, not their brains. If your employees come to work happy, your customers will be happy. Your profit will flow.”
And that includes customers from all over the world. “We have to respect other people’s cultures. If you work abroad, study their culture ahead of time. Learn their languages. It shows respect.”
Murray has experience managing hotels in 23 countries, he has developed prototypes for hotel chains and led a financial and marketing turnaround of an expedition cruise business. Murray says he now knows all of his experiences brought him to leading the CRVA.