Thrive Global x Juli Corlew: Part 3
In May 2019, VP & Managing Partner Juli Corlew had the opportunity to sit down with Yitzi Weiner of Thrive Global, an online publication founded by Ariana Huffington. Here’s the third and final part of that interview.
Juli joined Mainsail in 1999 following a distinguished 16-year career with Marriott which encompassed both operations and finance. She began at the Albuquerque Marriott then continued on through San Francisco, Denver and Tampa, where she was the cluster Controller for multiple Marriott properties. Her international experience as Financial Director took her to Mexico and to South America where she opened the JW Marriott Hotel Quito before returning to the US and Mainsail.
What do you think makes your company stand out?
We are small enough that our staff know who we are. We aren’t just a company that is owned by stockholders or investors; we are close enough to the field to make decisions quickly and for our staff to know us personally and something about our families. As we grow, it could get harder to keep this going, but it is an important part of our culture.
Can you share a story?
Two of my three kids have worked for Mainsail — starting when they were 15 or 16 — moving furniture, working in the warehouses, on construction sites, serving banquets, and even as an elevator attendant. I always told them that they had to work harder than anyone else since they were the boss’s kid. They did dirty jobs and never complained (well, not much, anyway). Many of our staff members have known them since they were little. One of my sons recently got married, with the rehearsal dinner at one of our hotels and the wedding at another. It was very meaningful to my son and his bride. The staff has enjoyed being a part of our story as well.
Here is another example. One of our core values is that we should have fun and that work doesn’t mean being stuffy. We work hard but we have fun and don’t mind being picked on or joked with. During the Ice Bucket Challenge a few years ago, I let our F&B Director at Scrub Island pour a huge bucket of ice water on me while I stood on the dock. I then did a free fall into the ocean after challenging our other teams to try to top that. Of course, I won.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now?
Our company is going through a significant growth period, with 10 hotels in the pipeline. I spend a lot of time with our leadership team talking about how we are going to get there — strategizing and supporting procedures/processes needed to be successful. Succession planning is an important part of this.
How do you think that will help people?
I don’t take the responsibility that we have for granted. As a company, we provide income, not just for our partners and investors, but an income for our employees along with a great experience for our guests. Our employees have families they support, and it is our responsibility to keep our company healthy so we can provide employment. Helping them be successful in their jobs by providing training, guidance, direction and opportunities to grow with the company is an important responsibility.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable or open — be real! Trying to be tough or having defenses up, trying to prove yourself — that is a tricky thing to do. People want to see a genuine person.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
It isn’t about your success — it’s about the success of the team. Surround yourself with people that you can rely on, listen to, and trust. Recognize that you need people with different perspectives and experiences. None of us can achieve success without some help along the way.