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Natalie Sullivan

Joe Massaro

President & CEO, Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association

Briefly describe your job and responsibilities.

In collaboration with the board of directors, formulate the organization’s mission, goals and objectives designed to support Pennsylvania’s restaurant, travel, lodging and destination marketing organizations.

What does a “typical” day at work look like for you?

Implement strategies to ensure the achievement of association goals while providing leadership, direction, and representation of association members via advocacy, education, and communication.

What was your first job?

Bartender at a local tavern.

When did you know this industry was right for you?

As I moved to bartend at a local full-service hotel, I was exposed to the various jobs involved in a successful operation. This intrigued me.

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to where you are today.

While working as a bartender at the Hilton at Lackawanna Station, I met the new Food & Beverage Director, Bill Kohl. Mr. Kohl offered me an opportunity to become a supervisor and began to teach me about the business.

During my time at this hotel, Mr. Kohl helped me advance to beverage manager, casual restaurant manager then fine dining restaurant manager.

I moved to another hotel where I started as the opening restaurant manager then became the Director of Catering.

Next steps brought me back to Mr. Kohl where I moved from Catering to Director of F&B, Senior Sales Manager, Director of Sales & Marketing, Hotel Manager, General Manager and Corporate Director of Operations.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I am always excited to “surprise & delight” guests by providing a special product or service they aren’t expecting. I also found a love for food & wine.
THE MOST favorite part has been helping others advance in their career as I was helped.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Balancing the multiple priorities and needs of each constituent we serve. This takes focus and intentional effort however is able to be achieved.

What advice would you give to students interested in your profession?

Apply for a job in the industry today. A formal education in hospitality is helpful however not necessary. On the job experience is necessary; not only to help develop your skills but to also provide an opportunity to see which area of the business you like best before pursuing or completing a degree program. As you do so, find someone you trust to be a mentor. Be curious, follow the suggestions made, work hard and most of all, have fun! Hospitality is the business of providing comfort, memorable moments, and happiness. Find the joy.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Helping others achieve great things in their career. This is different for everyone however the most rewarding is when some accomplishes what they’ve set out to do and you know you’ve provided a little help.

What do you like to do outside of work?

Spending time with family and friends. Travel, time around the table together, golfing, etc. Also when disciplined, I enjoy working out and staying healthy.

What is your favorite food to make or eat?

My mother’s meatballs.

What’s at the top of your bucket list?

My wife Monica and I want to plan a trip to Napa/Sonoma with our children. Then the two of us with friends, Italy.