Finding a hotel with a Xavier connection isn’t as difficult as you might think. That’s because M.B.A. graduates John Sweetwood and Steve Porter oversee some of the largest chains in the country.
As president of the Americas Division of Bass Hotels & Resorts, Sweetwood, a 1979 graduate, is responsible for these chains: Inter-Continental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Staybridge Suites.
Porter, who earned his degree in 1981, is executive vice president of the hotel division for Hilton, which includes the Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Red Lion and Hilton brands.
That both hotel executives graduated from a school without a hotel management major is only the beginning of the commonalties between Sweetwood and Porter. Both are from Ohio. Both earned bachelor’s degrees from Miami University. Sweetwood’s first son was born while he was an M.B.A. student at Xavier. Porter’s first son was born two months after he finished his M.B.A. at Xavier. Both children followed their father’s undergraduate footsteps and matriculated at Miami.
Porter joined Stouffer hotels in 1976 and quickly moved into management, running a 24-hour restaurant, a trendy cocktail lounge on the skywalk and room service for the 900-room hotel. Sweetwood, meanwhile, entered the hotel world from the back door, first developing an expertise in marketing at Kenner Toys and an advertising firm. It wasn’t until recently that he switched to hotels.
Both executives agree that hotels are a great industry. “What’s not to like?” says Porter. “It’s glamorous—we’re on stage, putting on a show every day, treating people to wonderful food and dining experiences, creating party events, helping people have a successful business meeting or launch a new product. People say all the time to find something you love to do, and that’s true. For both of us to end up where we have at this level in this industry with the opportunities we’ve been given—it’s incredible.”