By Mamee Groves
Posted on February 8, 2019
My first taste of hospitality in the restaurant setting was McDonald’s, but I found my love for working with people even earlier at the Anderson Flea Market. I started selling T-shirts and other items when I was 8 years old. It allowed me to learn how to interact with different personalities from a retail standpoint.
I came to the University of South Carolina as a track and field athlete. My team and coaches made me believe in myself. To expand my hospitality and restaurant experience, I worked at Olive Garden during the offseason for five years and loved it. All of the great opportunities I’d accumulated so far in the industry led me to choose to get my master's degree in International Hospitality and Tourism Management.
The most rewarding part of my career is being able to help my teams perform well. Seeing the people on my teams grow personally and professionally is a win for me!
—Mamee Groves, M.S., International Hospitality and Tourism Management
Networking to a Career
I met Charles Coleman, the regional director for Hyatt Hotels, at a career fair at the University of South Carolina. When I finished graduate school, I really didn’t know what direction I wanted to go in. The department chair told me I should try hotels. He made one phone call to Charles and he remembered me! The rest is history. I worked for Hyatt Hotels for 12 years in five major cities. I started as an assistant restaurant manager in Orlando and worked my way to director of operations at the Hyatt on Capitol Hill.
One day, a former manager contacted me about an opportunity at ClubCorp. He thought I’d be the perfect fit for my current position, and he was right! I travel extensively for work, which suits me well because I love interacting with so many employee partners across the country.
Advice for Success
As a leader, it’s natural to think that you’re responsible for setting expectations and holding other people accountable. My piece of advice? Hold yourself accountable first. If you want to be successful, you must be willing to adhere to a high standard that improves your own performance. Create a culture of accountability by encouraging your team to hold you accountable too.
My mentor, George Brown, once told me, “You don’t promote yourself. Your people do.” The most rewarding part of my career is being able to help my teams perform well. Seeing the people on my teams grow personally and professionally is a win for me!
The Career Journey story series shares a glimpse into the dynamic jobs of our alumni, how they got to where they are today, and their advice for the next generation — in their own words. Share your career journey story by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.