This month, Hotel Management featured The Madison D.C.’s General Manager, Hazel Hagens in their Hotelier Spotlight.
Hazel Hagans worked her way up to the top position at The Madison Hotel in Washington, D.C., over the course of many years and many jobs in many hotels, each one preparing her for higher levels of leadership.
“It wasn’t the career that I really picked up for myself,” Hagans said. “But it’s something that really grew on me.” She graduated from Spelman College with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and plans to become a dermatologist, but the Great Recession made finding gainful employment challenging. While working retail in a mall, she noticed a recruitment center for the W Atlanta Buckhead (now the Hotel Colee) and began talking with both the human resources manager and the director of HR. She applied to work at the front desk but was offered a position as a private branch exchange operator. “The HR manager at the time said that he loved my speaking voice and he thought it would be a better fit for me,” she recalled.
Hagans did not think of hospitality as a long-term career goal but within six months she was promoted to guest service supervisor and found that she liked being part of a hotel team. “I really enjoyed the camaraderie amongst the associates,” she said. “Everyone was very gung-ho and it’s a big collaboration.” She also built a good relationship with the hotel’s leadership team, and today credits their mentorship for her career growth. “I was trusted, even though I did not have a leadership role,” she said. “I was given a lot of leadership responsibility. And I think that my mentors and my managers at the time saw potential in me and allowed me to cross train, allowed me to assist in various departments, allowed me to work overtime when needed. That’s really what helped me shape my skills.”
She continued rising through the ranks at the hotel, leaving in 2013 as director of housekeeping. She moved up to New York City to work at the W in Times Square, learning about a different guest demographic than the property in Atlanta attracted (“They want what they want when they want it and you have to be a quick thinker,” she said). A year later, she was ready to try a different role with a different company.
After spending five years with the brand, Hagans believes the W culture strongly shaped her own leadership style. “They’re very accepting of trends,” she said, noting that they welcomed team members with tattoos or a distinctive sense of style. “We’re in 2023, now. Maybe we need to relook at these policies and say, ‘Is this really where we are in this day and age?’ A lot of people have tattoos and as long as it’s not offensive, what’s the problem with allowing your associates to express who they are in their individuality?”
Read the full article, here.