Assistant to the Executive Chairman of the Board
A Front-Row Seat to the World
“If Phyllis wasn’t here, I don’t know if I would be.” That powerful statement comes from J.W. Marriott, Jr. He graciously credits his wife, Donna, with recommending Phyllis for what turned out to be the job of a lifetime. “Phyllis has worked with me for 25 of the past 45 years I’ve known her,” says Mr. Marriott.
In her first few weeks on the job, though, Phyllis jokingly says she feared she’d made a mistake. She assumed the scheduling responsibilities for Mr. Marriott, but his calendar was so full it was difficult to accommodate all the requests for his time. “There just weren’t enough hours in my day to find the hours in his day,” she says. Phyllis not only persevered but found a way to create openings and enable the then Chief Executive Officer to be the hands-on leader his company came to expect and appreciate.
Now supporting Mr. Marriott in his position as Executive Chairman of the Board, not much has changed as far as schedules are concerned. In Phyllis’ words, “Getting time on Mr. Marriott’s schedule is like getting blood out of turnip!”
Mr. Marriott’s hotel visits are the biggest reason his schedule is so packed. Arranging these visits has given Phyllis an opportunity to work with associates from around the world. She teams up with the hotel to ensure the details of his trip are in order, enabling Mr. Marriott to easily engage with associates and customers. Phyllis says she could not ensure his trips run flawlessly without the help of others. As a result, she’s developed friendships with those associates who have enabled her to see the world through their eyes. In fact, Phyllis has had the opportunity to accompany Mr. Marriott on some of his international visits. The highlight of these trips for Phyllis is seeing the faces of those with whom she’s worked over the years.
Phyllis appreciates Mr. Marriott’s caring leadership and legendary hands-on management style. From type-written notes to updating itineraries, sometimes hourly, she is dedicated to keeping him informed. Not only do her efforts result in a more efficient executive office, but pride in supporting this iconic leader. “If I can make his job easier and he is happy,” she says, “I know I’ve succeeded.”