Hilton CEO Offers College of Charleston Students Tips, Inspiration

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On Friday, March 29, the College welcomed Chris Nassetta, the visionary president and CEO of Hilton Worldwide, to campus for a full day of events.

Chris Nassetta

On March 29, 2024, Chris Nassetta, the CEO and president of Hilton Worldwide, shared insights on leading a global hospitality giant and navigating the ever-changing landscape of the international business scene with College of Charleston students in his talk, “Leadership Lessons for a Global Economy.”

Students had the opportunity to learn about leadership, career development and how to make an impact in a globalized world.

“We were thrilled to welcome Mr. Nassetta to the College,” says Paul Schwager, dean of the School of Business, noting that Hilton Worldwide’s corporate recruitment team was also on campus to showcase the wide variety of career opportunities with College of Charleston students. “At the Charleston School of Business, mentorship takes various forms. The opportunity to hear from a luminary like Mr. Nassetta, who candidly shared his experiences addressing challenging situations, is a prime example of the student experience here. We are thankful that he chose to invest so much time in the College and our extraordinary students.”

Nassetta humbly shared his journey from the very bottom of the corporate ladder to becoming one of the world’s most respected business leaders.

“It was a treat to have Hilton president and CEO Chris Nassetta come and discuss his story involving struggle and triumph,” says Mary Muldoon, a senior communication major. “He started in the hotel business when he was 16 years old and his first job was plunging toilets. This was inspiring because it made me believe that if I work hard enough with the right mindset then the sky’s the limit.”

Nassetta’s philosophy is “people serving people,” and he encouraged students to “authentically lead people with humility and honesty.” He also advised students to see challenges as opportunities: “Don’t be afraid of crisis. When things are bad, that’s when you can learn the most.”

After speaking with students at length and engaging in a Q&A session, Nasetta joined Helen Hill, chief executive officer of Explore Charleston, for a “fireside chat” with industry leaders. Nasetta spoke about macro trends in the industry, including an increase in money spent on experiences instead of objects. He emphasized the importance of stewardship, safety and infrastructure in the hospitality business to continue the mission of people serving people.

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