Mary Rogers discusses her career that has brought her from Galway to Miami

Mary Rogers, a native of Galway, is the current Vice President and General Manager at Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida.

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Here, the successful Irish businesswoman discusses her career to date.

How did you start out in your career?

I worked in a Bed and Breakfast in Salthill, Galway for five summers and decided to study hotel management in college.  After graduating with a degree in Hotel and Catering Management from Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT), I was recruited to join The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and two weeks after graduating from college I was on plane to Washington D.C. to start working at the Front Desk at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner. 

What spurred your decision to move to the US?

In our final year at college, we did a case study on The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and the philosophy that their employees are their most important resource.  I found this fascinating and aspired to be part of such a people-focused hotel company. They had an established based in the United States and I knew moving to America would afford me many opportunities. 

Using five words, describe what is needed by somebody starting out in your industry

Team player, enthusiasm, passion, drive and attention to detail.

How does a normal day start out for you?

My mornings start early around 5:30 AM.  I typically get up and prepare lunch for my two daughters; Valentina age 5 and Olivia age 4 before I get them up and ready for Montessori school.  Then I jump in the shower and head off to work to be at my desk by 8 AM. My day is typically hectic and unpredictable, filled with meetings, calls, and briefings.  I usually make it home in time for the 3 BBB’s – book, bath, and bed. 

What has been the hardest thing about living in the US as an Irish person?

The holidays are hardest for me; Americans celebrate holidays quite differently than the Irish, especially Christmas.  Living here for twenty years now I am used to it but it is not the same. I get very homesick at Christmas time and while we have made our own family traditions now, it never gets easier. 

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What do you believe was the secret to your success?

Hard work, focus, and drive.  I always knew what steps I needed to take to make the next move in my career, so I worked hard, stayed focused until I achieved my goal.   

Do you consider being Irish as part of your brand?

Absolutely, yes. My Irish roots are something I am incredibly proud of.  The Irish are known the world over for being loyal, dedicated, extremely enterprising and most of all, hard-working whilst being friendly and people-orientated.  These traits are ingrained in me and how I conduct myself personally and professionally every day. I couldn’t be prouder to say I am Irish and I hope I represent my beautiful country and people well. 

Who are the Irish people you admire the most, one from history and one from today?

History:  Michael Collins – a hero of a man who paved the way for Irish Freedom and Independence, and selflessly lost his life in the process.

Today:  Mary Robinson – a lady also from Connacht who in 1990 was inaugurated as the first female President of the Republic of Ireland and went on to serve on the United Nations as High Commissioner for Human Rights.  This showed me at a very young age that women can take the highest leadership seat at the table with dignity, pride, and authority.   

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What has been your worst day on the job that you’d rather forget and did you learn anything from it?

Fontainebleau is a little city where over 2,200 team members work.  Losing one of our team members is always a sad day around here and always reminds me how precious life is.  It teaches me to be grateful and to be present in the moment and to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of our team members every day.

What has been the most exciting day in your career?

January 12, 2018 - the day I was named Vice President and General Manager at the Fontainebleau.  The first female General Manager since 1954. That was the day my life-long dream of becoming a General Manager was realized in a hotel that means so much to me.  I was also very proud that I was able to share the news with my father before he passed away a few short weeks later.    

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If you could be anything else in the world, what would it be and why?

Psychologist – I am fascinated by the science of people’s behavior and how the mind works.  Also, think I can get anyone to talk about anything. My friends call me “White Oprah!”

What is your favorite Irish brand?

Jameson Irish Whiskey – an Irish brand steeped in history since 1780.  A brand with humble beginnings but is now revolutionizing the Irish Whiskey market across the globe, giving Scotch and American whiskey a run for their money. 

Outside of that, Aer Lingus – an airline carrier that greets me with warmth, kindness and great service, evoking moments of anticipation of seeing the green fields of home.

Once you get off the plane in Ireland, what is the first thing you look forward to doing the most?

Sitting in my parent’s kitchen, drinking cups of teas for hours on end as my family come and go throughout the day.  Nothing makes me happier. 

What is your favorite place in Ireland?

Powerscourt Estate, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow - the place I married my husband in 2013.  We absolutely love it there; the house, the gardens, the waterfall. We visit every time we go home and love to show Valentina and Olivia where we got married and established The Rogers Family.

**This July, IrishCentral pays tribute to the International Irish who are breaking the mold, smashing glass ceilings, and emerging as the next generation of global thinkers and leaders. You can follow IrishCentral’s International Irish throughout by using the hashtag #InternationalIrish or by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn. Find more in IrishCentral’s business section