During her tenure at Marriott, she has seen a number of changes, including the
acquisitions of Gaylord Hotels, Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and Starwood Hotels & Resorts
Worldwide. The company now offers 30 brands and more than 7,300 properties across
134 countries and territories. “Although mergers present incredible opportunities to meet the needs of all kinds of travelers, they can present challenges, especially for IT staff,” Petry said. “We’re constantly working behind the scenes, taking a step back and evaluating to see if what we did in the past will work in the future.”
One of her biggest accomplishments was being part of the team that oversaw the technology merger between Starwood and Marriott. “When you think about a merger from a technology standpoint, it’s really about bringing together two very different sets of legacy systems in a timeline that’s reasonable.” In this case, that timeline was two years, and at the top of the
agenda was the merger of the loyalty programs. “Taking care of customers is always first and foremost,” she said. “We knew those programs had to come together quickly.” With that in mind, the technology teams began the loyalty program merger on day one; within 24 months, they had achieved the full program integration. In parallel came the integration of 17 systems, including finance, human resources and reservations. And, of course, there was the post-integration work. Especially as we grow globally, we have to make adjustments to meet not only our current needs but also those of the future.”
Petry’s success is due in large part to her commitment to inclusiveness. “It’s easy to let yourself believe that your expertise is enough to drive a project, but it’s critical to listen to others and be open to differing opinions,” she said. “Many times, companies become so segmented and narrowly focused – particularly in the world of IT – that they forget the importance of teamwork as a company, which is ingrained in Marriott’s culture. As leaders, we need to understand the value of working together to achieve our goals.” She cites the Starwood acquisition as a shining example. “Listening to their employees helped us figure out exactly how we would integrate.”
Petry also emphasizes the importance of keeping both a macro and a micro view of technology, particularly during an acquisition. So, while the global teams focused on the company’s big system conversions, she always kept the Americas local markets in view. “We worked closely with our Starwood counterparts to understand exactly how each hotel was set up technically, so we could migrate them into the world of Marriott,” she said, noting the importance of relationships to that process. “We had a great rapport with the people at Starwood, which made all the difference in the world to the successful completion of the project.”who not only are driving change within their organizations but also are at the forefront of innovation in the industry. In this special report, we highlight these technology leaders, providing an in-depth look at their recent accomplishments as well as their predictions for technology’s future.