Joy Rothschild – Senior Vice President of Associate Services for Omni Hotels

Joy Rothschild

Jump for Joy: As she prepares to take the stage at PINK’s conference in Dallas, Omni Hotels’ Joy Rothschild talks about travel, hiring and firing, and authenticity in the workplace.

By Rebecca Wetherbee

With unemployment at a record high (5.5 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics), more professional women are receiving, or handing out, those dreaded pink slips. So what’s the secret to getting fired with grace – and landing a better job? “I never took what happened to me personally,” says Joy Rothschild, senior vice president of associate services for Omni Hotels. Today she’s one of the company’s top-ranking women, but in 1996 a new owner took over Omni and fired everyone on the executive team – including Rothschild, a 16-year veteran at the time. “I was never bitter,” she says now. “I never bad-mouthed the company.” So she went to work contentedly as senior vice president of human resources for Carnival Hotels and Casinos – until 1998, when Omni realized its mistake and rehired her. She says her ability to separate the personal and professional “allowed [her] to come back.”

This sense of easygoing confidence has guided Rothschild throughout her life, whether at home with her husband, two children and two stepchildren, or at the office – and it’s paid off. She’s received numerous awards for her work in human resources, including the Human Resources Service Excellence Award, the Golden Bell award, and the Omni Hotels President’s Award.

PINK: What’s your best advice on firing?
Joy Rothschild: Do it with dignity. I don’t use the termination to dig up everything they’ve done wrong. I try to do it quickly; the conversation is very brief, and we don’t rehash the past.

PINK: What’s been your success secret?
J.R.: I have a big personality; I’m loud and I have a sense of humor. You can’t take yourself too seriously. I’m very passionate about what I do and love my job, and everybody who works for me knows that. I’m not your typical woman in a pinstripe suit. A giant animal pin … is kind of my signature. I take chances with my clothes and jewelry and appearance to make a statement, but you will not forget me. I don’t try to dress like a man. I’m a woman! I am always myself, and I’m very straightforward. You may not always like what I have to say, but I think you’ll respect me for saying it. But there’s not a hierarchy in the way I look at people who work at Omni Hotels. I don’t consider myself better than or worse than anybody.

PINK: What are your balance tricks?
J.R.: As a woman and a mother, some days I’m a great mother, and sometimes I’m a great executive. But I think that’s a normal juggling act. Seeing my family thrive is the joy of my life. If my family is happy and healthy and we’re together, then I’ve been successful.

PINK: How do you define professional success?
J.R.: When I see people I’ve hired thrive and get promoted. Playing a part in [growing people] lets me know I’m successful.

PINK: What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
J.R.: I live by something my summer camp counselor from Maine told me when I was 9 years old: “Love many, trust few and always paddle your own canoe.” You’ve got to take care of yourself and own your own career. Also, you never want to burn a bridge. You never know in this day and age whom you might eventually work for.

PINK: What advice would you give our readers?
J.R.: Your professional image has a lot to do with where you go. And it’s not only your clothes; it’s also how you behave, how you present your ideas, how you manage your emotions. You have to go in completely prepared. You have to anticipate what you’re going to be asked, who the enemies might be in the room, who will challenge you. And you have to be prepared with how you’re going to respond. If you’re prepared, there’s nothing that can shake you. If you’re angry or feel like you want to cry, collect yourself and don’t deal with the situation in that moment until you can do it professionally. I always tell people, “You dress for the next job; you act like you’re in the next job; and you treat everyone like an equal.”

PINK: Have you made any business moves that you regret?
J.R.: Yes, my very first job out of college. A boutique hotel came to campus and said they were going to hire one woman to work food and beverage in a very famous restaurant that had never hired a woman before. I was wooed and took the job, and three weeks later I left. I followed the glitz and the money, but it wasn’t anything I loved. Make sure that you’re doing something that you love; don’t just go for the baubles.

PINK: Do you have any industry tips for saving money when booking a hotel reservation?
J.R.: There are a lot of websites out there – Travelocity, Expedia – but you will always get the best rate by going on the company’s site. [Omni] is doing a “best rate guarantee,” so if you go on, we will match any rate that you can find on another website.

PINK: What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you at work?
J.R.: I was a nursing mother, and I had a sign on my door that said “Do Not Disturb” when I was pumping breast milk. But the president and CEO walked in on me! I think he was more embarrassed than I was. We laugh about it today; it was a bonding experience.

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