Lorie Keith landed her first job at 13, working part-time throughout high school at a fast-food restaurant and later as a waitress.
The hospitality jobs taught her the meaning of great customer service and its rewards. “When people enjoyed themselves, it made me feel great,” she says of the experience.
That’s when Keith decided the hospitality industry was the route for her.
She decided to study hospitality and tourism administration at Centennial College, and learned about the business practices, such as human resources and marketing, of the hospitality industry.
Honoured as Graduate of the Year in 1991, Keith left Centennial with a three-year diploma and a specialty in hotel and convention sales.
Her acquired skills and knowledge helped her move quickly through the sales ranks at the Marriott International hotel chain. At the age of 38, she is the youngest of Marriott's 12 Alliance account directors.
Before landing the account director job, she was a regional director for Canada, helping spread the word about Marriott's lodging services to multi-national corporations. In a single year, Keith increased the number of Canadian room-night bookings from corporate clients by 21.5 per cent.
Today, she manages the lodging needs of corporate giants Ford, DaimlerChrysler and Nortel.
Keith and her team of sales professionals make sure Marriott can accommodate every request from her three clients, which combined spend nearly $50 million per year on global business travel.
Her ability to build strong relationships with people has also helped her to raise funds for the Sky’s The Limit youth organization, which supplies children in Toronto’s Regent Park neighbourhood with refurbished computers and teaches them online skills.
Keith credits her gregarious nature and attention to detail for the success she’s enjoyed in her career and in the community.
“College gave me the ability to be where I am today. It opened doors for me,” she adds.
For program details visit www.centennialcollege.ca/future/hospitality_tourism.jsp.