The following interview with Tisch Center Alumni Society President John Paulsen was conducted by Tisch Center social media assistant Tiffany Choi.
1) Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? What do you do now and when did you graduate from Tisch Center?
I have been working in the hospitality industry for almost 30 years. I started my career in 1986 when I
graduated from the University of Houston with a Hotel & Restaurant Management Degree and went to work for the Hyatt on Union Square in San Francisco as a Management Trainee. I worked at various positions in the rooms division for several years with Hyatt and then went to work at the Four Seasons in SF, where I oversaw the housekeeping department. I moved to New York City in 1990 where I opened the Macklowe Hotel (now the Millennium Broadway) as Director of Housekeeping and then Director of Front Office. Over the course of the next 10 years, I worked for various other NYC hotels such as the Sherry-Netherland, Roosevelt Hotel, Sheraton NY and the St. Regis. I moved to Tishman Hotel Corporation in 2003 where I began working in Hotel Asset Management for Tishman and their newly opened Westin NY at Times Square. I rose up at Tishman to become Vice President of Asset Management overseeing the development of the InterContinental NY Times Square. I left Tishman in 2014 and joined GB Lodging as Senior VP of Asset Management overseeing all of GB’s assets which include the Ace New York, the Ace Palm Springs, Old No. 77 New Orleans, The Beekman NYC and the purchase of a NYC mid-town Hotel (the transaction has not closed yet but will be a 360 room repositioned full service hotel). I went back to school in 2004 at the Tisch Center to obtain my Masters in Hospitality Industry Studies where I graduated in 2009. In the summer of 2010, I started teaching as an Adjunct Assistant Professor. I have taught Hotel Operations Analysis, Strategy Formulation & Decision Making and will now be teaching Hotel Management Fundamentals.
2) What motivated you to run for president for the alumni board?
As noted above, I have been associated with the Tisch Center for over a decade, first as a student earning my Master’s and for the last 5 years as an Adjunct Professor. I have enjoyed my association with the Tisch Center and have had the opportunity to interact with other students, alumni and professors. The Tisch Center has a diverse talent of students and faculty, a wide array of resources and represents a collaboration of learning with practical applications. I want to help continue the great job that prior TCAS boards have done in providing opportunities for alumni to interact with industry leaders, assist in networking opportunities and foster a sense of community among like-minded professionals.
3) What do you think will be your biggest contribution to the board?
I have almost 30 years of hospitality experience. During those years, I have been involved with many organizations at various levels. In each of my positions, I have been able to bring structure, involvement and participation. I have a good understanding of how to make committees function and how to get the most out of a team. I think that a team works best when there are contributions from all members of the team. I will work to see that we can involve all members of the TCAS board in as many ways as we possibly can, bring interesting activities to our alumni and have some fun doing that.
4) What are a few changes you hope to implement?
I’m not looking to make a lot of change as there already is a big change that is taking place by the separating of the two alumni programs Sports from Hospitality and Tourism. As mentioned above, I’d like to continue the fine work done by the prior TCAS Boards and build upon their success. As an Adjunct Professor, I know many of the Master’s students, having taught them in my Hotel Operations Analysis class, so I would encourage all of them to be actively involved in the Tisch Center Alumni Society to help them with networking and building their careers. I think it’s a natural extension of being an Adjunct Professor and TCAS board member.
5) What are the biggest benefits of joining the Tisch Center Alumni Society?
By joining TCAS, you are connected to a network of active professionals who share like-minded attributes and interests in hospitality. In my 30 years of working in the hospitality industry I have met numerous colleagues who have become life-long friends and business associates. By joining TCAS, you can plug into an already-established network and begin to develop life-long relationships with fellow alumni.