Khaled Hashem has been in hotel and hospitality for decades and is currently Managing Director of Nantucket Island Resorts, a job he’s had for ten years. Nantucket Island Resorts placed eleventh among large companies on this year’s Top Places to Work lists. Hashem shares details of his day-to-day and advice for those looking to make it in the industry.
Boston.com: How would you summarize a typical day?
Khaled Hashem: What’s exciting is that every day is so different. I look at our revenue and rates every day, I look at the VIP list and write them cards, I write birthday and anniversary cards for our team members, and then I usually have a couple of meetings.
I spend a lot of time in the field with the team and the guests, and I try to stay out of my office. I go visit the six properties on the island about once a week. In the summer, I go around and bring ice cream for each of the hotels. I grill, I plan a picnic for our employees. Seriously, it’s different every day and every week.
Q: Have you always known you wanted to work in the hotel industry? How did you know?
A: My dad was an interior designer. He did a couple of designs for hotels, and I’ve been traveling since I was very young.
I love travelling. When I was 16 years old, [my family and I] immigrated to Dallas, Texas. I just knew I would either be a pilot or a hotel manager. When I was 17, I got my first job as a room service bus person and I knew I wanted to be in hotels and a general manager. I thought it would be exciting and glamorous. It is exciting, but I’m not sure about the glamorous part now.
Q: What’s the most admirable aspect of the community you work in?
A: Our business is seasonal. We open and close every year, and we have over 350 seasonal employees. I’m proud to say that 80 percent come back every year and the average tenure is ten years.
We have a fantastic group of people we developed and trained over the years, and we promote from within. There are 40 people over the years that have been at the company as we’ve kept growing and growing. I’m really proud of that.
Q: What’s an essential tenet of your leadership style?
A: I’m very straightforward. I’m very clear in my vision and what I want to accomplish. I may be demanding, but I’m also very fair.
Q: What challenge have you recently faced that taught you something about yourself?
A: For 37 years I’ve been working in hospitality and I’ve been lucky to work in many different places. I’ve been at this job for ten years. I say it all the time—I learn something everyday. Everyday is different.
An episode I had to deal with recently was with an employee. It was very, very personal, and it makes you aware that it’s not just business you deal with … you also have to deal with personal issues and try to help as much as you can. I’m learning that more and more. You have to be compassionate, understanding of other people’s personal issues, and try to help them.
Q. What aspect of your job keeps you going in tough times?
A: I can’t have any bad days. I’m at the top of the chain. I wake up every morning and tell myself I’m going to have to deal with issues or problems and make tough decisions, and I prepare myself for that. At the end the day, there’s always a solution.
Q. What advice do you have for people who might want to start a career in the hospitality industry?
A: You have to work hard and have it within yourself to say, ‘I am going to make a difference in somebody’s life.’ You have to be committed to either helping someone have a fantastic vacation or help somebody with his or her career. I get this amazing feeling when I see one of my team members do well or when guests have an amazing stay.
Q. What passions do you have that are unrelated to your profession?
A: Traveling with my family. My wife and I have two kids, and we’ve been lucky to be able to travel around the world. Everywhere I go, I learn something about the people and the culture.
Q. What’s your favorite spot in Nantucket?
A: I have a lot of favorite spots … but it’s got to be sitting in a chair on the gorgeous lawn on the Wauwinet property. It overlooks the bay and is pretty magical, especially during the sunset.