These interviews are part of a series that highlights new hires within the industry. Have you recently started a new role or do you know someone who has? Submit your ideas to email@example.com.
Melissa Bolster was recently named catering and conference services manager of World of Whirlpool.
1. What are you looking forward to the most in your new role?
I am looking forward to gaining experience as the leader of the team I’ve been so fortunate to be part of over the last two years. I am lucky enough to work with an incredible group of strong young women who I get to learn from each day. We are a force, and play an integral part in the success of our facility. I am going to learn so much more about planning, leadership, and myself because of this opportunity that I will be able to take along with me to whatever comes next.
2. How do you think past experiences have prepared you for this role?
In addition to my unique and slightly non-traditional education experience, every single role I have held throughout my career has shaped both my planning and leadership styles. Disney showed me the power in creating memorable experiences and building connections with guests. My first position in meeting planning was really where I recognized my passion for tying details together. My time as a catering guest experience manager for Disney was quite challenging, but brought to life the concepts I learned in my Roosevelt courses in leadership. I’ve learned so much from my amazing leaders, the leaders I did not agree with, and my numerous instructors about what does and does not make a leader successful. I am excited to see how my style continues to develop as I move forward in this role.
3. How did you get into the industry?
I began my journey in the hospitality industry as a participant in the Disney College Program Fall 2011 season at the Walt Disney World Resort as a quick service food and beverage cast member in the Magic Kingdom Theme Park. Upon my return to Illinois, I declared my major in hospitality management, and began my studies with College of DuPage’s recently restructured hospitality program. After obtaining my associates degree, I transferred to Roosevelt University through their partnership with College of DuPage and worked toward my Bachelor’s degree. I worked front desk at a select service hotel in White Lodging’s portfolio and was then promoted within the company to a sales coordinator role. My time as coordinator opened my eyes to the world of meetings and events, as my director of sales gave me the freedom to truly own our banquet space. I fell in love with the planning aspect of that role, and seeing an event come together from beginning to end. After graduating from Roosevelt in May 2016, I moved back to Orlando to begin a catering management internship with Park Event Operations at The Walt Disney World Resort! My role was much more operations and back of house focused, but the knowledge I returned to Chicago with has completely impacted my management philosophies.
4. What are you hoping to achieve in your new role?
We are a unique facility, and therefore require unique policies and procedures. I have spent the last two years considering ways in which we operate that we could streamline. I’ve got some ideas up my sleeve that I’ll have the opportunity to explore and workshop with the team as busy season comes to a close next month. I am also excited to bring more continuing education awareness to the team. I sit for my CMP at the end of the year, and would ultimately like to get everyone involved in the process.
5. What do you enjoy most about the industry?
As a lifelong learner, I love that this industry has so many facets that you are able to bounce to and from throughout the entirety of your career. I remember being struck with a sense of true appreciation when a guest speaker in my Introduction to Hospitality course said that you may choose one area within the industry to begin your career, but that it ultimately won’t be where you’ll end up. So far that absolutely holds true, and I look forward to whatever ultimately comes my way next!